GLENDALE — With coin flips and myriad playoff scenarios to ponder, one aspect the Crescenta Valley High football team had control over was how it performed against archrival Arcadia.
From the onset of Thursday night’s Pacific League tilt at Glendale High, it was abundantly clear that the Falcons were in firm control, as the offense was flying, the defense was dominant and the outcome decided early, as Crescenta Valley routed the Apaches, 49-14, with quarterback Brian Gadsby leading the way with five touchdown passes and 321 yards through the air.
“We were coming in excited,” said Gadsby, who completed 18 of 24 passes and added an excellent leaping 17-yard reception before his evening was done at halftime. “We knew for any chance at the playoffs, we had to win.
“Overall, just a stellar game. I couldn’t ask for anything better, really.”
Crescenta Valley Coach Paul Schilling was equally pleased with the performance of his Falcons (8-2, 5-2 in league), but still had to deliver some unfortunate news after the game, as Crescenta Valley, as result to losing a coin flip, could well be on the outside of an automatic top-three playoff standing.
With Burroughs (6-3, 5-1) and Burbank (7-2, 4-2) squaring off in the annual Big Game on Friday, the Falcons are hoping for a Burroughs’ win, as that would leave the Falcons tied for third with Burbank, but taking the spot by head-to-head tiebreaker. However, if Burbank wins, all three would be tied for second and, via coin flip, the Falcons would be the fourth-place squad and have to hope for the one at-large bid in the CIF Southern Section Southeast playoffs.
Still, with the body of work the Falcons have put forth, Schilling is confident his team will get in whether it’s by standing or an at-large invite.
“I’m pretty confident and I told the guys that,” said Schilling, whose team defeated Arcadia for the second straight year. “This is a great group, I hope we can keep it going.”
The Falcons wasted little time getting going on Thursday, scoring on their first four possessions and six of eight first-half drives.
“From the beginning, we were just clicking,” said Gadsby, who benefited from a huge day by receiver Connor Van Ginkel, who had five catches for 150 yards and two touchdowns all in the first half as well.
A Gadsby 31-yard hook-up with Chase Walker (five catches for 71 yards and two scores also all in the first half) keyed a first drive culminating with a Kevin Hello four-yard scoring run. Hello finished with 55 yards on only seven carries, with all of his work done in the opening 24 minutes, as well.
Arcadia (5-5, 3-4) had no rebuttal on the ensuing drive or in the game, for that matter.
After the Falcons held for a three-and-out, Crescenta Valley’s offense took over with favorable field position on the Apaches’ 38 and scored seven plays later on a Gadsby-to-Walker nine-yard score with 5:26 left in the quarter to go up, 14-0.
“The first drive, boom! We scored kinda easy,” Schilling said. “Then they go three-and-out and we scored again. After that, I was like, we got this.”
A wide-open Van Ginkel concluded the first-quarter scoring with a 32-yard touchdown catch with 48 seconds left in the period.
A 78-yard Van Ginkel catch and sprint to pay dirt followed for a 28-0 advantage early in the second quarter.
Crescenta Valley’s offense stalled, if possible, over the next two drives. But Arcadia’s first and only first down of the opening half didn’t come until it was already down by four scores. In the first half, Arcadia had just 47 total yards.
“They’ve really improved,” Schilling said of his defense. “Every game they’ve gotten better.”
Gadsby and the offense picked back up to end the half.
The Falcons went up, 35-0, when receiver Jordan Lobianco (five catches for 83 yards) sprinted and juked his way for a 52-yard score with 25 seconds remaining in the half.
Not yet done, Austin Brines recovered a pooch kick to give the Falcons the ball right back, enabling Gadsby to find Walker for a 22-yard touchdown and a 42-0 halftime lead.
“I think I was hit once,” said Gadsby, who threw for five or more touchdowns in a game for the fifth time this year. “I couldn’t ask for a better line.”
Quarterback Joe Torres had a six-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter to conclude the Falcons’ scoring, while Arcadia added an offensive and defensive score in the fourth quarter, which was played with a running clock.
Now, the Falcons will commence rooting for Burroughs and, after Friday night, perhaps a favorable verdict from the CIF Southern Section offices.
“We’re hoping for that at-large spot,” Gadsby said. “[At] 8-2, I don’t know if you can not give it to us.”