With a season lost, an opportunity at hand and an archrival poised to end the year as bitterly as it had progressed, Crescenta Valley High’s football team called on a junior varsity sophomore quarterback.
Less than 24 hours removed from a loss to Glendale that still lingers for the Falcons, Brian Gadsby was watching game film with friends when his phone rang with varsity assistant Dennis Gossard on the other end.
“I was like, ‘Huh? He’s never called me before,’” Gadsby recalls.
With the call came the call-up to varsity. Gadsby started the final two games of the 2012 season, quarterbacking the Falcons to victories over Hoover and, most notably, rival Arcadia. In many ways it salvaged the season, as Crescenta Valley finished at 5-5 with a rivalry win to ride off into the offseason with.
“Not a lot of players end on a win,” junior defensive lineman Davo Hakobyan says. “I’m glad we beat our rivals at the least.
“Beating your rival is always sweet.”
Without hesitation, Gadsby will tell you baseball was his first love when it comes to the world of sports and, as he sees it, it always will be.
For 12 years, the lanky right-hander has had a smile curving his face when a diamond was underneath his feet.
As for football, the 16-year-old junior is plenty short on experience after just two seasons. Alas, you would hardly know it, as the 6-foot-2, 145-pounder with potential aplenty in his right arm and a knack for playing big in important games enters the season as the incumbent starter for the Falcons, a season removed from aiding mightily in punctuating an otherwise disappointing 2012 campaign.
“He definitely kinda commands our respect,” says senior linebacker Austin Brines, who’s also Gadsby’s teammate on the school’s baseball team. “He kinda walks around like he’s good, but not with a cockiness. It’s a confidence. And when he’s playing with confidence, we play with confidence.”
Statistically, Gadsby didn’t put up dazzling numbers in his two starts as a sophomore.
In a 21-19 victory against Hoover, he completed three of five passes for 97 yards, his first varsity touchdown and his first varsity interception. He threw two more interceptions against Arcadia, as he completed 21 of 38 passes for 216 yards and added a rushing touchdown. But the Falcons won, upsetting their playoff-bound archrivals, 23-7.
What was most impressive was the confidence and mentality he played with and the manner in which he handled the situation of being a sophomore leading an offense of upperclassmen.
“The guys were very open to him,” senior Kevin Hello says. “After the Arcadia game, the guys looked to him wishing he had come up earlier in the year.”
As Gadsby tells it, when he was called up along with friends Chase and Weston Walker, their aspirations were simply to show the CV coaching staff they deserved to start the following season.
What Gadsby did against Arcadia was leave the Falcons with a lasting impression and a lasting highlight.
“He really stepped up,” Hakobyan says. “He was a great leader for us as a sophomore.
“During the Arcadia game, he came up huge.”
While Gadsby’s play ended the Crescenta Valley football season on a positive, it was very much the beginning of a sensational sophomore year.
“We knew we had something special,” Falcons baseball Coach Phil Torres says. “We knew we had a funky monkey and nobody knew we had it.”
Gadsby’s “funky” sidearm delivery became a head-scratcher for opponents during the 2013 baseball season. The sophomore played a key role in helping the Falcons claim a share of the Pacific League title. He was a breakout star, earning All-Area and All-Pacific League honors after posting a 7-6 record with six complete games and 68 strikeouts to just 18 walks. Once more, his most impressive feat might well have been playing big on a big stage, as he twirled wins against co-champion Burbank and archrival Arcadia.
“He has a great mentality during games,” Torres says. “He just goes and plays; he doesn’t worry about anything around him, which is awesome.”
It’s that mindset that has made him a success on both fields of play thus far. It’s one in which he quickly moves past any hiccups and plays to win rather than not to lose.
“Brian’s a gamer, he’s reckless, though,” Falcons football Coach Paul Schilling says. “That might be his best attribute, though. He could bean three guys and then strike the next three guys out. He could throw three interceptions and then go out and throw the game-winning touchdown.”
It was with that swagger that Gadsby took on Hoover and then Arcadia last season.
“I was super excited, it was crazy,” Gadsby says of the atmosphere for the Arcadia contest. “I didn’t play with fear, I played with nervousness. I went in knowing I was gonna mess up.
“If I screwed up, I just flushed it down the toilet and went on to the next play. I just try to move on to the next batter or next play, whatever sport it is.”
Whether it was baseball or basketball growing up for Gadsby, there were always sports.
“Growing up, he was always talking, playing sports,” Chase Walker says. “That’s all he does.”
But when he didn’t make the CV basketball team as a freshman, he eventually decided to try out for football at the convincing of Weston Walker.
From there, on “the first or second day” of practice one of Gadsby’s coaches asked him to throw the ball around.
“Every game since then, I’ve been quarterback,” Gadsby says.
A starting quarterback, at that, having started at the freshman, JV and varsity levels every game. Now, he enters the 2013 season as an undefeated — albeit just 2-0 — incumbent signal-caller.
Thus, he led the Falcons a season ago to a finish they could look back on with consummation.
“I’d definitely say that was the highlight,” Hello said. “I think it was an awesome way to end the year.”
This time around, Gadsby is looking to start off right where he finished.