Guarding the Falcons

It doesn’t take much to entertain Andrew Kiorkof once he’s logged on to his laptop.

There’s plenty of files to choose from on his desktop, including an array of music and video games. While Kiorkof will frequently check them, they don’t seem nearly quite as important to him between August and November. In that time, Kiorkof, a senior offensive lineman on the Crescenta Valley High football team, will have game film sent to his laptop by members of the Falcons coaching staff so he can immediately go to work breaking down who he will next be up against across the line of scrimmage.

Once he’s digested the information, Kiorkof’s responsibilities are clear — stabilize a line designed to provide steady pass protection for quarterbacks Joe Torres and Ben Rees.

“I spend about five or six hours a week during the season looking at film and seeing what the tendencies are of who I’ll be next going up against and what advantages I can try to have,” said Kiorkof, who will begin his third season with the Falcons. “I know that [Falcons] Coach [Paul] Schilling has so much trust in me and I appreciate that.

“I look at the film and break down what the other team’s strengths and weaknesses are and I use it as a tool for learning. That’s one of the best ways toward trying to be successful and getting the job done. Learn what they can do and what they struggle at. Then, you have to find a way to counter it.”

The 270-pound Kiorkof, who will also play at defensive tackle, will be one of three starting linemen returning and looking to get the Falcons back into the CIF Southern Section Southeast Division playoffs. He will be joined by Ryan Powell and Naz Erdoglyan.

“With his size and build, he can move very well,” Schilling said. “He’s smart and that’s what you want with somebody playing that position.

“I think our offensive line will again be one of our strongest points. Joey and Ben will be first-year quarterbacks and they are going to need every second to be in line to throw the ball. A calm offensive line can help out the quarterback. The quarterback knows he’s got that security with somebody like Andrew being right there in front of him.”

Kiorkof has learned from some former Crescenta Valley linemen in recent seasons, including Bryan Luna, a former All-Area and All-Pacific League first-team selection. Individually, Kiorkof has aspirations for earning all-league accolades.

Kiorkof, a left guard, said he appreciated watching Luna dominate on the line and has since tried to emulate his mentor.

“I’ve learned from some good ones, and now I want to show the current players what the past players did for me,” Kiorkof said. “I’ve spoken to the guys now about my experiences and I tell them not to take anything for granted.

“I tell them to try to be a student of the game and learn from their mistakes. It can be a certain technique, like blocking, or something else.”

Kiorkof can speak from previous experiences. He called himself the team’s “practice player” because he didn’t receive much playing time between the hash marks in 2010.

A lack of playing time wasn’t going to cut into Kiorkof’s plan to keep developing. He used the practice sessions as a tool to keep him active.

“I was brought up during my sophomore year and I was basically the team’s practice player,” Kiorkof said. “I played a little here and there, but the practices were my games.

“I tried to collect as much experience as I could with the idea of someday becoming a starter. That helped me last year, when I played every game. I felt like I got stronger and faster and I continued to watch a lot of film and I could see a big difference in my play.”

Erdoglyan, a senior, said Kiorkof is poised to put together another quality season.

“He could be named to the all-league team, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he got All-CIF,” Erdoglyan said. “I know he can go up against a team’s top defender and do it well all the time.

“He’s always poised when under pressure and that’s a good thing. He’s a big guy who will keep playing until he hears the whistle blow.”

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