LA CRESCENTA — Though the Gordy Warnock Memorial Passing Tournament ended in a loss for the host Crescenta Valley High football team, it didn’t end with dissapointment for Falcons Coach Paul Schilling.
“We scared them a little bit,” said Schilling shortly after his Falcons lost a back-and-forth championship game to Hart, 32-26. “I’m very happy.”
Schilling was pleased with Saturday as a whole.
Having gone 1-1 in pool play to open the tournament Friday, the Falcons went 3-1 on Saturday.
Early Saturday morning, they finished pool play with a 26-12 win against Los Angeles Marshall. Then, in the first round of bracket play, they defeated Pacific League archrival Arcadia, 22-12. Perhaps their most impressive outing followed, as Crescenta Valley defeated another league rival, Burroughs, 28-2, in the tournament semifinals. It came after the Indians beat the Falcons, 22-16, in pool play on Friday.
“We were surprised with the Burroughs game,” Schilling said. “We knew we could beat them, but not like that.”
In retrospect, Schilling said he believes Friday’s loss to Burroughs might very well have been a turning point, leading the Falcons to coming out Saturday with renewed focus and intensity.
“Maybe the Burroughs game yesterday was the key,” he said.
Added receiver Connor Van Ginkel: “We picked up the intensity today. We came out to fight and that’s exactly what we did.”
And after the Burroughs game on Saturday, Crescenta Valley waited as Hart defeated Sylmar in the semifinals to set up the championship.
The contest proved physical and was a see-saw affair from the start.
Though Brian Gadsby is the incumbant starter at quarterback for the Falcons and was with the team Saturday, he was resting his arm after throwing eight innings of one-run ball in the Crescenta Valley baseball team’s CIF Southern Section playoff game on Friday night. Thus, Ben Rees, who began last season as the CV starter, continued to take the snaps as he’s done thus far this spring. And Rees looked sharp at times, particularly in the beginning of the championship game.
He completed his first 11 passes in the contest, his first six coming on the opening drive, which ended with a one-yard scoring pass to Bostin Lakin for a 6-0 lead. His next five completions culminated with a five-yard score to Van Ginkel. During that span, three straight passes were hauled in by running back Kyle Tavizon.
However, Hart answered each score, leaving the game tied at 12 before the Falcons’ third drive in which Rees went 0 for three with some help from some dropped passes.
“When we catch the ball, we’re good with everybody,” said Schilling, who, overall, was happy with his receivers’ play on Saturday.
Hart took advantage of the three-and-out, though, and surged ahead, 18-12, when standout receiver Trent Irwin, who attended middle school in La Crescenta, hauled in a 15-yard touchdown.
Crescenta Valley would counter, driving down and scoring on a Rees-to-Jonathan Jun one-yard touchdown grab that tied the game at 18.
The Indians kept scoring, though, taking just three plays to go back ahead, 24-18, before an interception on the ensuing drive upped the lead to 26-18.
The Falcons answered with an interception of their own, though, as Jack Hwang picked off a ball on the first play of Hart’s next drive, handing the Indians their first stop of the championship.
Crescenta Valley took over on offense as the feel to the game grew tense and the Falcons were fortunate when a Hart defender dropped an interception. The Falcons took advantage of the second chance when Rees connected with Van Ginkel to tie the game at 26 on a six-yard score.
Hart fired the final salvo, though, scoring on the following drive before forcing a turnover on downs for the Falcons and running out the clock on the final drive of the game.
Still, Schilling was plenty pleased with the performance of his Falcons, especially against a program such as Hart that has a tradition of success and has often done quite well in passing leagues as it runs a spread offense.
“Those last two games, maybe it’s a good omen,” said Schilling of the Burroughs win and the Hart loss. “I’m really happy.”
With a lot of turnover from a team that struggled last season to a 5-5 record, the spring has also been instrumental in developing chemistry among a fresh-faced flock of Falcons.
“We’re a younger team than last year,” Van Ginkel said. “Maybe a little bit smaller, but we’re gonna fight and do what we can. We’re definitely a tighter group than last year.”
And, if nothing more, Saturday was a positive going forward in preparation for the 2013 campaign.
“I’m pretty pumped right now,” Schilling said. “It makes working all day in the sun worth it.”