A year after a disappointing .500 season with no playoff berth, the Crescenta Valley High football team will look to improve on 2012 with nearly the same schedule in tact.
One big thing in the Falcons' favor is how the home-and-away schedule plays out. They'll play six of their 10 games on their home turf, including their final five, at Moyse Field, which they share with Glendale and Hoover highs.
"We are going into it and I think if things work out and we make plays, we feel we have an opportunity to win a league championship," Crescenta Valley Coach Paul Schilling said. "I am not guaranteeing it, we have to play to our potential. We can compete and be in the mix."
CV's only new opponent also happens to be its season opener. It will travel to visit a familiar face in Verdugo Hills for a 7 p.m. kickoff Sept. 6. Schilling said it was the Dons who approached his team again to renew the matchup.
It's a rivalry the Falcons had dominated recently with four straight wins over Verdugo Hills, including 34-13 victory in their last meeting to open the 2010 campaign. Schilling expects a good game to open the year, having heard good things about the Dons' returning quarterback and group of receivers.
"I know that they have a good group coming in this year," Schilling said. "Just my opinion, I think maybe that's why they scheduled us again, they get a good group in and think they can beat us."
Last year, San Marino was the new team on the block, brought in to replace Crescenta Valley's longtime rival St. Francis. The Titans prevailed, 27-7, on their home turf and the Falcons will get another crack at Moyse Sept. 12 at 7 p.m.
"We had always struggled against St. Francis and I think our players were just like, 'Oh, it's just San Marino,'" Schilling said. "We took them much more lightly… they're a really good team and that coach is really good. They are old-school, smash-mouth play."
CV will then travel to La Cañada to face another Rio Hondo League opponent in what's always an emotional contest, as it serves as the fourth annual Gordy Warnock Memorial Game.
While billed a rivalry, Schilling admitted the annual fixture has lost a bit of luster for his side as the Falcons have owned the matchup. They've claimed victory over the Spartans the past six years in a row, including last year's 48-21 blowout.
"We really should win that game, so there is some rivalry stuff to it, but all the pressure is on us," Schilling said. "We're supposed to beat them, it makes it more difficult in that way for us."
While there's only one new team on its schedule, CV will have plenty of question marks surrounding a lot of new-look teams in the Pacific League. It opens league with Pasadena — one of three league teams with new coaches.
CV earned a 17-14 win over Pasadena at home last year and will hope to get "some good film" on the Bulldogs to prepare for the unknown for a 7 p.m. game Sept. 27.
It could be the start of a tough three-week stretch the Falcons always seem to be faced with in the Pacific League. They'll travel to Burroughs Oct. 4 at 7 p.m. and then host Burbank Oct. 11 at the same time to start a five-game homestand.
"We always have a spurt in our schedule where we're playing the two of them in a two-week period," Schilling said of Burroughs and Burbank. "It's a good measure for your team. If you do well in those two games, you know you're going to be good. If you're going to win a league championship, you have to win at least one of them."
In week seven, Crescenta Valley will have revenge on its mind. It is listed as the home team Oct. 18 for a 7 p.m. game with Glendale. The Nitros shocked the Falcons by beating them, 20-17, last year.
"After what happened last year, our guys and our coaches are circling that game," Schilling said.
CV will continue to share Moyse on Oct. 25, with Hoover hosting for the 7 p.m. game. In 2012, The Falcons eked out a 21-19 win over the Tornadoes, who also have a new coach in Matt Andersen after Andrew Policky moved to Arcadia.
Perhaps the team Schilling is most excited about hosting comes in the form of Muir on Nov. 1. The Mustangs cruised to a 36-0 home win over the Falcons last year, but fell to them at Moyse in 2011, 27-20.
"We just have to make the plays," Schilling said. "Muir, we get at home and they're different on the road. … I think it helps for us to get them at our place."
Once again, the Falcons have saved the most anticipated game for last. They will close out the regular season with league-rival Arcadia on Nov. 7 at 7 p.m. for a Thursday-night showcase.
"We always play Arcadia Thursday night at our place," said Schilling, whose team defeated the Apaches, 23-7, last year but will have to wait and see what Policky has in store with his new squad. "It's like the big game around, because there's not a lot of people playing their last games on Thursdays. A lot of people will come out to watch, even if they aren't with CV or Arcadia, to see a football game."
2013 Falcons Schedule
- Sept. 6 at Verdugo Hills, 7 p.m.
- Sept. 12 San Marino at Moyse Field, 7 p.m.
- Sept. 20 at La Cañada, 7 p.m.
- Sept. 27 at Pasadena, 7 p.m.*
- Oct. 4 at Burroughs, 7 p.m.*
- Oct. 11 Burbank at Moyse Field, 7 p.m.*
- Oct. 18 Glendale at Moyse Field, 7 p.m.*
- Oct. 25 at Hoover at Moyse Field, 7 p.m.*
- Nov. 1 Muir at Moyse Field, 7 p.m.*
- Nov. 7 Arcadia at Moyse Field, 7 p.m.*
*Denotes Pacific League games