Despite graduating 26 players and three of its primary offensive weapons, there's an excitement around the experience the Crescenta Valley High football team will have back in 2013.
That's not to say the Falcons aren't dealing with some unknowns this spring — 22 to be exact.
"We're going through this kind of thing where we've learned everything and now we're starting over and learning again," said Crescenta Valley Coach Paul Schilling of spring football.
As always, fundamentals, conditioning, the weight room and chemistry building were still a priority this spring, but Schilling said the focus was on seeing what the 22 new players joining the varsity squad have to offer.
"We're trying to see what they can do," Schilling said. "Some of them came up from the [junior varsity] and we're trying to see if this guy's going to play for us. … That's our goal for the spring, see what we've got. This is a pretty deep group, from the first guy to the last guy, they're very deep."
Perhaps Crescenta Valley will be deepest at quarterback in 2013 with three players with experience last year at the position returning. The revolving door for CV signal callers last season seems to have closed already in the spring, though.
The youngest of the trio Brian Gadsby, an incoming junior, is in line to take the reins from returning seniors Joe Torres and Ben Rees, who both played quarterback last season.
Torres and Rees have used the spring as a chance to grow into their new roles. Both will spend some time at wide receiver, alongside promising 6-foot-2 receiver Connor Van Ginkel, and in the defensive back field.
"So far it's been pretty good, we still have a lot of work to go through for the regular season, but hopefully we get there," Rees said. "I just want to help bring the team together, show senior leadership and do the best I can at whatever position they put me at."
While the Falcons went a disappointing 5-5, 3-4 in Pacific League to fall out of the playoffs into the No. 5 spot in the standings in 2012, they finished the year on a winning streak with victories over Hoover (21-19) and Arcadia (23-7) with Gadsby under center.
Although CV hasn't set any goals for the upcoming season, Schilling acknowledged a league title is something his team is always shooting for.
With 22 returning upperclassmen — 12 seniors and 10 juniors — there's reason for optimism, but Schilling's had to remind himself there could still be some growing pains.
"We'll see, I don't know," Schilling said of the outlook for this year. "I feel like we could be pretty good, but we're real young still. We had 11 sophomores on the varsity last year, so even though they aren't treated as young because they played a year of varsity football they're still guys that are a year away, but we don't have time for a year away."
The Falcons have used several passing leagues and a handful of 11-on-11 scrimmages against different teams to evaluate their entire group. Schilling and the players have liked what they've seen so far.
"There's a lot of hype for the young kids," said returning running back and safety Kyle Tavizon, who'll be a junior next year. "There's a lot of young talent. Last year, it was seniors that had all the talent and all the younger kids were waiting to get our turn and now it's our time to shine."
One thing's for certain, the Falcons are looking to get the ball rolling in a different direction in 2013.
"It's kind of like redemption from last year," returning All-Pacific League second-team defensive lineman Davo Hakobyan said. "We were supposed to have a great team and then we have a 5-5 record. We're all working very hard this year."