Teaching things the Falcon way

The Crescenta Valley High football team can't predict what it will accomplish this season.

Paul Schilling is a head coach for the first time at the school, he has a cast of young and inexperienced players and the Falcons are still trying to find the right personnel for their offensive and defensive schemes.

On a team that has plenty of question marks, there's one steadfast presence that is prepared to lead the Falcons.

He's a linebacker and an offensive lineman that his teammates call the teacher of the team.

He's a senior who others try to emulate and the one who his teammates measure themselves against.

Bryan Luna has the trust of his teammates and his coaching staff and is ready to help a Falcon team that lost 30 players to graduation surprise some folks in the area and in the Pacific League.

"For Bryan, the expectations are very high in terms of all-league and All-CIF," Crescenta Valley offensive coordinator Hudson Gossard says. "For the team, it's unknown."

What's known for the Falcons is that Luna will start at left tackle and middle linebacker, as they try to build on last year's team that went 8-4 and 5-2 in league for third place.

What's also known is that Luna will have to be a leader on a team that returns just eight players from 2009. Gossard says Luna has already become a mentor through his actions and attitude on the field during drills and in the weight room.

"He's one of two or three of the toughest players we have," Gossard says. "He doesn't complain about one thing. He doesn't whine about injuries. He's one of the most aggressive players we have."

The aggression of the offensive line — "the strength of the team," according to Gossard — will be a key to protecting junior quarterback Zac Wilkerson and creating holes in the Falcons' balanced scheme.

At 6 foot 2, 215 pounds, Luna might not be the biggest offensive linemen, but he's the one his teammates want to be like.

"He makes us want to be like him," says Patrick Arnold, the Falcons' 6-2, 225-pound right guard. "Bryan is the one to beat right now. Bryan is definitely the head teacher. He knows a lot more than we do — by far."

Luna is knowledgeable enough to know that he earned his way to becoming a starter and leader, and he expects his teammates to do the same.

"You have to show [those who haven't played varsity] how things should be done on varsity," he says. "A lot of guys who get to varsity think a lot of things are given to them.

"They have to know that they have to earn their way. There isn't a lot of returning varsity players, so that will be hard. But we have a lot of guys who like to compete and a lot of guys who don't like losing."

With such an inexperienced group, the Falcons will depend on a strong offensive line that includes senior right guard Ben Thomason (6-2, 290), senior tackle Adam Fletcher (6-2, 260) and, of course, Luna.

"We're going to depend on each other, and we're going to trust Bryan to make the right decisions," Thomason says.

With Luna's leadership and the strength of the offensive and defensive lines, the Falcons see no reason why they can't compete like they did last year.

"We feel like we have a good chance of beating most of our opponents," Luna says. "There's no team that we look at and say we can't beat them."

Individually, he has aspirations for all-league and All-CIF honors.

His teammates have their own individual and team goals, as well.

Says Arnold: "We all want to do better and be as good as Bryan."

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