Upon first look at the Crescenta Valley High football team's 2012 schedule, the most noticeable aspect is what game is not there.
Absent from the schedule is the traditional nonleague showdown known as the "Battle for Foothill Blvd." against cross-town rival St. Francis.
"The biggest thing was just to change it up," said Falcons Coach Paul Schilling, whose Falcons went 6-5 last season, which included a 35-0 loss to St. Francis. "We had to do something differently."
Last year's defeat to the Golden Knights was the 10th straight in the rivalry for the Falcons, compounded by struggles at the lower levels in which Schilling said games, historically, were never close with Crescenta Valley always on the losing end.
"That wasn't good for anybody," Schilling said.
Historically, the game was a large community event that drew a large crowd and, though Schilling believes it's a good move to change the schedule, he admitted it wasn't a celebrated change among the players.
"Our kids were disappointed," Schilling said.
While the St. Francis matchup is no longer, Crescenta Valley will once again take on Santa Paula to lead off the season. Kicking off their season on the road Aug. 31, the Falcons will play a Santa Paula (2-8 last season) team they beat, 40-32, last year.
"It was a good matchup and we'll do it again," said Schilling, who said he will renew the series in the future. "We feel like it's a game we're going into that we feel we should win."
Replacing St. Francis in the second-week slot will be San Marino (7-4 last season) on the road Sept. 7, before Crescenta Valley hosts traditional nonleague rival La Cañada, as a pair of games with Rio Hondo League opposition wrap up the nonleague portion of the Falcons' schedule.
"Those Rio Hondo League teams are good matchups for us," said Schilling, whose team bested La Cañada, 35-14, in 2011.
Adding to the La Cañada (3-7 last season) matchup will be its billing as "Gordy's Game," in memoriam to longtime Falcons head coach and assistant Gordy Warnock, whose death in 2010 came before the showdown with the Spartans.
"This year we're gonna try and really make it a special game," said Schilling, who added at the team's postseason banquet the highest award is also presented to a player in Warnock's name and comes with a $1,000 scholarship.
After a 4-3 mark in the Pacific League last season in which the Falcons tied for third place, Crescenta Valley and Schilling expect another dogfight for a playoff spot. And this time around, the Falcons won't dip their toes into the Pacific waters, as they begin with a daunting three-week slate.
In their league opener, the Falcons will travel to face Muir (8-5 last season), which advanced to the CIF Southern Section Southeast Division semifinals a year ago. With a new coach, but a tradition of being a fast and physical team that plays tough at home, the Mustangs are a favorite to be atop league again.
"We've always, even some of our really good groups in the past, had a really tough time out there [at Muir]," Schilling said.
CV edged Muir, 27-20, last season, but then lost a shootout against Pasadena, 53-41. Pasadena (6-6) will follow Muir on the CV schedule again, as the Bulldogs and Falcons lock up on Sept. 28. Much of the preseason Pacific League talk has centered around Pasadena and returning All-Area quarterback Brandon Cox, who's heading to the University of Arizona.
"[After Muir], then we play Pasadena and their beast of a quarterback," Schilling said. "They're gonna score."
And Burroughs (6-5 last season), the three-time defending league champion, is very likely going to have a good running game behind a big and physical offensive line, as is the program's tradition.
"[Indians Coach Keith Knoop] does an awesome job," said Schilling, whose squad fell against Burroughs, 35-22. "They kind of just do what they do. That offensive line is always good and a back emerges."
Adding to the difficulty of knocking off the champion Indians will be a short week of practice as the Falcons, after hosting Pasadena, will host the Indians on Thursday, Oct. 4 in their only non-Friday game of the season.
A Burbank team (4-6 last season) looking to bounce back into the playoff mix will then host CV on Oct. 12 before the Falcons face Glendale (1-9 last season) and Hoover (0-10 last season), their fellow inhabitants of Glendale High's Moyse Field. CV defeated Burbank, Glendale and Hoover last year.
The Falcons, as is tradition, finish off the regular season with archrival Arcadia, as the Apaches (9-3 last season) host CV on Nov. 2. Crescenta Valley, which lost against its rivals, 31-7, a year ago, is looking to end a two-game skid in the rivalry.
Said Schilling: "That's the game, that's our UCLA-USC game."
Aug. 31 at Santa Paula, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 7 at San Marino, 7 p.m.
Sept. 14 La Cañada, 7 p.m.
Sept. 21 at Muir, 7 p.m.*
Sept. 28 Pasadena, 7 p.m.*
Oct. 4 Burroughs, 7 p.m.*
Oct. 12 at Burbank, 7 p.m.*
Oct. 19 at Glendale, 7 p.m.*
Oct. 26 Hoover, 7 p.m.*
Nov. 2 at Arcadia, 7 p.m.*
*denotes Pacific League game
All home games are at Moyse Field.