GLENDALE — It appeared that the Crescenta Valley High football team would play the same schedule this season as it had the previous four. A last-minute change scrapped those plans, forcing the Falcons to scramble to find a new opening-week opponent.
In recent seasons, the Falcons have opened their season with an intersectional contest against Verdugo Hills. The schools are separated by less than five miles, providing the teams an easy bus trip to the respective home venues and an intersectional rivalry.
Instead, Crescenta Valley will kick off against visiting Santa Paula in a nonleague game at 7 p.m. Sept. 9 at Glendale High's Moyse Field.
"Verdugo Hills dropped us from their schedule and we hadn't planned on that happening," said Crescenta Valley second-year Coach Paul Schilling, whose team finished 4-6, 3-5 in the Pacific League last season. "We struggled to find another team to play and we saw that Santa Paula had the same situation and we figured OK.
"They have a good quarterback, wide receiver and running back and they are similar to us with a wide-open offense."
Santa Paula finished 5-6 and fell in the first round of the playoffs last season.
From that point on, the Falcons will meet the same teams they did last season, beginning with nonleague road games against intracity rivals St. Francis and La Cañada. Crescenta Valley will face St. Francis at Friedman Field at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 16 in "The Battle for Foothill Boulevard" before taking on La Cañada at 7 p.m. Sept. 23.
Crescenta Valley suffered a 42-14 loss against St. Francis last season before bouncing back to net a 38-34 win against La Cañada.
"Anytime you go to St. Francis, it's such a big game for the community," Schilling said. "The players have a good time and we get great fan support there.
"The La Cañada game can always be scary because they want to try to beat us. Most of the time, we've been on the winning side of some close games."
Crescenta Valley will then begin the league portion of its schedule at 7 p.m. Sept. 30 against Hoover. Since Crescenta Valley and Hoover share Moyse Field, Crescenta Valley will be designated as the road team.
Crescenta Valley posted a 62-28 victory last season against Hoover, which will have a new coach on board in Andrew Policky.
"Whoever you play, it doesn't matter," Schilling said. "They have a new coach and it's a game where both teams try to start 1-0 in league."
The Falcons will then face Muir, which has had its way in recent seasons against the Falcons at Muir. Crescenta Valley has won twice at Muir since 1978. The Mustangs handed the Falcons a 39-16 loss last season at Muir.
This time, the game will be played at 7 p.m. Oct. 7 at Moyse Field.
"It's always better when we can play them at home," Schilling said. "They are real hard to beat at Muir, so we look at it as a positive for us to play them at home."
Schilling said the Falcons expect a stern test in their next league game at 7 p.m. Oct. 14 at Pasadena. Pasadena recorded a 21-14 win against Crescenta Valley last season.
"They are a team that's just real scary and they just seem to get better," Schilling said. "I expect that to also be a real tough game."
The Falcons will then play their final four games at Moyse.
First up for Crescenta Valley will be Burroughs, which shared the league championship with Arcadia last season, at 7 p.m. Oct. 20.
Burroughs picked up a 21-14 win last season against Crescenta Valley.
"You always try hard against them because they've won league the last two years," Schilling said. "If you want to win league, then you'll have to go through them."
Burbank will then face Crescenta Valley at 7 p.m. Oct. 27 at Moyse. The Bulldogs knocked off the Falcons, 39-26, last season.
"It's the same thing as Burroughs," Schilling said. "They were one of the best teams [in league] last season and we know they will have a real good team again."
Next up for the Falcons will be Glendale at 7 p.m. Nov. 4. The Nitros, who are led by former Crescenta Valley Coach Alan Eberhart, suffered a 35-14 loss against the Falcons last season.
Schilling said Glendale might be a better team with wide receiver Mike Davis and quarterback Alex Yoon leading the way.
"Those two guys are so good and we'll have to figure out a way to stop them," Schilling said.
Crescenta Valley concludes the regular season at 7 p.m. Nov. 11 against rival Arcadia. The Apaches notched a 35-17 win last season against the Falcons.
Schilling said the Apaches will have a senior-laden team that might be in line to win the league crown again.
"I think they are the team to beat because they have so many talented guys," Schilling said. "We've got seven of our 10 games being played at Moyse and that's where we are most comfortable."
Sept. 9 vs. Santa Paula, 7 p.m.
Sept. 16 at St. Francis, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 23 at La Canada, 7 p.m.
Sept. 30 vs. Hoover, 7 p.m.*
Oct. 7 vs. Muir, 7 p.m.*
Oct. 14 at Pasadena, 7 p.m.*
Oct. 20 vs. Burroughs, 7 p.m.*
Oct. 27 vs. Burbank, 7 p.m.*
Nov. 4 vs. Glendale, 7 p.m.*
Nov. 11 vs. Arcadia, 7 p.m.*
*denotes Pacific League game
All home games at Glendale High