With the continued dominance of Arcadia High and Burroughs, along with the rise of Pasadena and the surprising run of Muir, the Pacific League was a tough place to play football this season.
Of the three local members, only Crescenta Valley made the playoffs, with a fourth-place finish and Glendale and Hoover entered the season-ending "Battle for the Victory Bell" with nary a league win between them.
The talent of their league opposition made things challenging at times for the Falcons, Nitros and Tornadoes, but likely also made it all the more meaningful when some of their own were recognized along with the best in the all-league voting conducted by the league's coaches.
The Falcons, who went 6-5 overall and 4-3 in league, had the most selections overall among the locals, including six first-teamers.
Senior running back Marro Lee was named first-team offensive skill position after leading the Falcons with 1,187 yards in 201 carries with nine touchdowns. He also caught 27 passes for another 223 yards.
"He had a great year for us," Crescenta Valley Coach Paul Schilling said of Lee. "He did everything we asked him."
Paving the way for Lee's runs was senior Armen Pashai, who earned a spot as a first-team offensive lineman
"The biggest thing I can say about Armen was his leadership," Schilling said.
Senior Pavle Atanackovic earned first-team kicker honors after converting eight field goals, including a 52-yarder against Glendale and a 49-yarder against La Cañada. He also never missed an extra point in 35 attempts.
"He is a great athlete and if he didn't kick the ball into the end zone, he could actually go down there and make a tackle," Schilling said.
On the defensive side for Crescenta Valley, senior Noah Stubblefield was selected as a first-team defensive lineman, senior Justin Springfield made it as a first-team linebacker and junior Chad Eggerston was named a first-team defensive back.
"He did such a great job, he was so tough," Schilling said of Stubblefield, who had 36 tackles, a team-high seven sacks and a fumble recovery. "He was a force. He was quick, so even though he was small, he could move and give guys trouble."
Springfield tied with Eggerston for the team lead in tackles (60), recorded five sacks and had one interception and one fumble recovery.
"Justin was probably one of our best all-around football players," Schilling said. "He's kind of like an NFL rush defensive end. He's fast enough to drop into coverage, he was awesome."
In addition to leading the team in tackles, Eggerston caused two fumbles and had a sack.
"We gave him the assignment of kind of knowing what everybody does and quarterbacking our defense," Schilling said of Eggerston.
Although he hauled in 57 catches for 1,004 yards and 12 touchdowns, senior Falcons receiver Nick Ruiz fell to second-team offensive skill position.
Glendale, which went 2-8 and 1-6 in league, got one offensive skill position nod for senior receiver Michael Davis, who entered the season surrounded by big expectations after an impressive passing league season.
"I think he's lived up to [the hype]," said Alan Eberhart, who recently resigned as Glendale's coach. "He's deserving. In the league meetings, they're not even calling him Michael Davis, they're just calling him Michael now. He's a legitimate first-team guy."
A first-team defensive lineman nod went to senior Kevin Vega.
"He's got this motor that just doesn't stop, he's always intense," Eberhart said. "He's a kid that just plays hard all the time. He's a legitimate offensive and defensive lineman."
On the second team, senior running back Alex Yoon picked up a skill-position nod.
"Our best player didn't make first team, Alex Yoon, because he was hurt a game and a half," Eberhart said. "He can run and catch the ball. …He did everything for us, but he also played a game with a really bad ankle and we sat him out a game and a half. In our league, you better play all the games [to get all-league]. You're not going to get enough votes if you don't have the stats."
Senior Gagik Gabrielyan garnered a second-team offensive lineman nod.
"He played every snap, we didn't have a second-string center," Eberhart said. "He's just a very solid, functional offensive lineman. But it's rare that an offensive lineman [plays] every single snap all year. He kind of learned how to play and got better and better and really was the mainstay of our offensive line."
Hoover's lone first-team nod went to senior running back Luke Tabayoyong, who rushed for 847 yards in 164 carries and scored six rushing touchdowns and one receiving.
"He's a good kid, he definitely deserved to be on there," said Hoover Coach Andrew Policky, whose team finished 0-10, 0-7. "He worked really hard and he had a pretty good season. He had a nice little stretch there at the end of the season where he played well in the last few games. I was happy to see him get some recognition for that."
Offensive honorable mention went to Crescenta Valley senior lineman Nathan Sarreal, Glendale senior quarterback Evan Norton and Hoover junior lineman Jeffrey Truong, while defensive honorable mentions were awarded to Crescenta Valley senior defensive back Kevin Cooper, Glendale senior linebacker James Recinos and Hoover senior defensive lineman Thomas Bauw.
Burroughs High running back Zander Anding was the player of the year.