GLENDALE — If there's more optimism than usual surrounding the onset of a new season for the Hoover High football team, it probably has to do with the flashes of momentum the Tornadoes established last season.
Granted, the team finished 2-8 with just one Pacific League win, but that was an all-important 15-7 victory over archrival Glendale — the first in the rivalry since 2006 — and their first win of the season, a 16-13 triumph over South Pasadena in the second week, snapped a 21-game slide.
Whether the Tornadoes can improve their prospects in the Pacific League will be a major test for third-year Coach Chris Long's program, but first Hoover will have a very similar, yet ostensibly easier, nonleague warm up in which to try to keep that winning feeling going.
The season will open at 7 p.m. on Sept. 10 at Sierra Vista, against which Hoover came maddeningly close to ending its losing streak last season in a 12-8 setback in which quarterback AJ Pule was hurt in the first half and did not return. A fumbled handoff in the red zone late in the fourth quarter loomed large.
"We felt we let that game slip away, so that's a game we definitely have circled on our calendar," Long said. "They played a good game but we felt like we gave it away, we fumbled the ball three or four times. That's a game we're looking forward to, we feel like it's payback."
Conversely, South Pasadena may be looking for a bit of payback when Hoover hosts a rematch at its home field, Moyse Field, at 7 p.m. on Sept. 16.
"It's always a big game," Long said. "The kids are excited for it, especially because it's going to bring back memories of winning our first game. We kind of want to keep that streak going."
The only new opponent on the schedule is Mountain View, which will host a 7 p.m. clash on Sept. 24. The Eagles, who signed a two-year contract to replace San Marino on the Tornadoes' schedule, went 0-10 last season.
"We just started looking in new directions," Long said. "I was told we've always done well [against them] and it's a heated matchup, so I said, 'Let's do it.'"
Pacific League play will begin with a bang at 7 p.m. on Sept. 30 when the Tornadoes begin a stretch of games against the top three teams from last season.
The league home opener against Burroughs and an Oct. 14 game at Burbank, the two teams that finished tied for the league title, are separated by an Oct. 8 date with traditional league rival Crescenta Valley, which finished third in league last season.
"This is a tough stretch," Long said, "but there's no way around them, even if you mix it up, everyone in league is tough.
"Burbank had a great year last year and I think they're returning something like eight guys on defense and nine guys on offense. They're gonna be really good, Burroughs is gonna be up there and of course you've gotta add CV and Muir also."
Muir will host Hoover at 7 p.m. on Oct. 22 and the Tornadoes will then travel to Arcadia for a 7 p.m. tilt on Oct. 29 before returning to Moyse to face Pasadena at 7 p.m. on Nov. 5.
The regular season will conclude with the "Battle for the Victory Bell" at 7 p.m. at Moyse Field on Nov. 12. Glendale will be the visiting team this year.
"It's in the back of our mind, it's something we talk about all offseason," Long said of the rivalry and its last result. "We had a losing streak for a while, but now that we've turned it around, we want to start a nice winning streak."
•Sept. 10 at Sierra Vista, 7 p.m.
•Sept. 16 vs. South Pasadena, 7 p.m.
•Sept. 24 at Mountain View, 7 p.m.
•Sept. 30 vs. Burroughs, 7 p.m.*
•Oct. 8 vs. Crescenta Valley, 7 p.m.*
•Oct. 14 at Burbank, 7 p.m.*
•Oct. 22 at Muir, 7 p.m.*
•Oct. 29 at Arcadia, 7 p.m.*
•Nov. 5 at Pasadena, 7 p.m.*
•Nov. 12 vs. Glendale, 7 p.m.*
*denotes Pacific League game.
All home games at Glendale High.