First published in the Oct. 1 print issue of the Glendale News-Press.
Calabasas came calling last Thursday as Crescenta Valley took the field for its final tuneup before the beginning of Pacific League play. For a while it went pretty well for the host Falcons, but then things changed.
After a highly competitive first half, it fell apart for CV after the break, resulting in a 57-20 nonleague defeat at the hands of the visiting Coyotes at Moyse Field.
“It was a tale of two halves,” CV coach Hudson Gossard said.
Crescenta Valley (1-4 record) opened the game with the ball but was forced to punt, only to see Falcon Tyler Oliver recover the ball when it hit a Coyote. Soon after, the hosts used some trickery, resulting in a 34-yard ground gain by offensive lineman Michael Balian.
“It was an old-school fumblerooski,” Gossard said.
The drive closed with a 23-yard field goal by Miles Vallejo with 5:43 left in the opening quarter, which ended with a 3-0 Falcons’ lead.
In the second quarter the teams combined for 24 points. Calabasas (4-1 record) went first, with Alonzo Contreras hooking up with receiver Arion Long for a 23-yard touchdown, grabbing a 7-3 lead after the PAT kick.
CV answered immediately with a 10-play, 51-yard drive. It culminated in a 4-yard touchdown toss from Jacob Deno to Andranik Saryan to regain the lead. On the drive, Deno also carried the ball five times for 24 yards.
The Coyotes, who play in the Marmonte League, struck back with an 80-yard scoring drive. The touchdown came on a 31-yard pass from Contreras to Jerry McGee. The lead went back to the visitors, and they would not yield it again.
In the final minutes of the half, Crescenta Valley worked the clock for more points. Soon after a 20-yard reception by Saryan got the hosts into the red zone, CV spiked the ball with 11 seconds left, setting up a 29-yard field goal make by Vallejo. It was a tight one at the break with Calabasas leading, 14-13.
“I don’t think [Calabasas] in the first half took us very seriously,” Gossard said. “We had a couple drives down there where we only got field goals out of them. If we could have turned those into touchdowns, it would have maybe put us in a little better position.”
The second half was a different story as Calabasas came to life. The Coyotes scored the first 37 points after the break, with the last 30 coming off of Crescenta Valley turnovers.
On the first offensive snap of the third quarter, Coyote Aaron Butler, who did not play in the first half, took a handoff and went 53 yards for a touchdown. On the play the Falcons seemed to have the junior pinned in, but he spun off of contact, reversed field and took it to the house.
“We came out in the second half and, right from the start, things start to go wrong,” Gossard said. “We give up the big play to [Butler] and then, offensively, we fell apart.”
The Falcons’ second possession of the third quarter ended with Deno being sacked and stripped of the ball. The ensuing Coyote drive ended with a 1-yard scoring run by King Miller and a successful PAT kick.
The next Crescenta Valley possession ended with an interception of a Deno offering, and two plays later Contreras threw a 31-yard touchdown pass to Lang.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, which started with a 37-13 advantage for the visitors, Brock Bomberg picked off a Deno pass and returned it 20 yards for a touchdown with 11:53 to go.
After that, the officials utilized a running clock. The ensuing possession for the hosts saw another interception, this time by Patrick Sabey, who returned it 55 yards for a touchdown. The run for a two-point conversion was good and the lead peaked at 51-13.
However, Crescenta Valley kept battling. On the first snap of the next possession, Saryan ran right and broke free for a 60-yard touchdown.
Calabasas concluded the scoring with a 41-yard touchdown pass from Contreras to Butler to set the final margin. Contreras finished 11 of 19 for 203 yards and the four touchdowns.
Saryan had 58 yards on two carries with the touchdown to go with five receptions for 44 yards and the score.
Deno completed 12 of 24 passes for 107 yards with the three interceptions and one score. The junior carried the ball eight times for 21 yards.
Shade Schaefer had three catches for 30 yards. Cristian Flores had two grabs for 17 yards and ran six times for 8 yards. Bjorn Hermansen had one grab for 16 yards.
Crescenta Valley league play last night by hosting Burroughs High of Burbank; the game ended after the News-Press publishing deadline and will be included in next week’s issue.
“We played a pretty tough nonleague schedule, so I feel we are battle-tested,” Gossard said.