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Falcons look for a quick fix

Urgency surrounds senior-led team looking to put last year's losing streak to rest and realize playoff potential.

September 06, 2011|By Gabriel Rizk, gabriel.rizk@latimes.com
(Tim Berger/Staff…)

LA CRESCENTA — The Crescenta Valley High football team would like to prove that it's 4-1 start last year was more emblematic of its identity than its 0-5 skid to end the 2010 campaign.

Injuries, most devastatingly offensive catalyst Marro Lee's broken thumb that sidelined him for the final five games of the year, clipped the wings of the Falcons' spread offense. Lee, a running back, is back and primed for a big senior year, though, and is joined by most of the Falcons' skill position players coming back for Friday's 7 p.m. season opener against Santa Paula at Moyse Field.

"We don't want to be known as a 4-6 team," senior quarterback Zac Wilkerson said. "I think this year we're going to be a lot more pumped up and ready to go to have a winning season."

Last season, the Falcons had a lot of new faces at the varsity level and, since a great deal of those first-time varsity starters were seniors, there is even more turnover this year. But, as it opens the door for a transfusion of talent from Crescenta Valley's league-champion junior varsity squad, that may not be a bad thing at all.

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"Hopefully, we won't have the same injury problems as last year," Lee said, "but I think overall, together as a group, we have more chemistry or bonding. We're a more tight-knit group, a lot of us play great together, especially the juniors. They're a really great addition to what we had going on last year."

On offense, the Falcons welcome back Wilkerson as the unquestioned starter after he had to compete for snaps last season. They also return third-year senior wideout Nick Ruiz and senior Nathan Sarreal at center.

There's also multiple options in the backfield, as last year's JV most valuable player, junior William Wang, has made the jump to varsity and figures to alternate with Lee in the Falcons' single-back sets.

"What we've sort of done is look at how are we going to get them both in the game at the same time," said second-year Coach Paul Schilling, who will also split Lee out wide on occasion and use him to return kicks. "[Wang's] kind of similar to Marro, just a year behind. He's exciting, he's more of kind of a straight-ahead, hard runner. He's actually faster than Marro, but Marro's very shifty."

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