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Grant Clark led CV soccer to CIF glory

August 17, 2012|By Gabriel Rizk, gabriel.rizk@latimes.com
  • Under first-year coach Grant Clark, the Crescenta Valley High boys' soccer team realized its full potential with a CIF Southern Section Division IV title and deep CIF State run.
Under first-year coach Grant Clark, the Crescenta Valley… (Tim Berger/Staff…)

The top-five high school coaches from the 2011-12 season were voted on by the Glendale News-Press sports department.

1 Grant Clark, Crescenta Valley High boys' soccer — Taking the reins of a star-studded team on the doorstep of realizing its championship potential may seem like a cushy situation for any coach, but Grant Clark admits that more than a bit of apprehension came along with assuming control of the Crescenta Valley High boys' soccer team in the fall of 2011.

"I knew what their expectations were and they felt like they fell short of what they could have achieved the year before," said Clark, who was the Falcons junior varsity coach at the time of Kiel McClung's resignation on the heels of a season in which the varsity squad won a second straight Pacific League title and made a program-best run to the CIF Southern Section Division IV quarterfinals. "It was a very overwhelming feeling and there were a lot of nights before the season started when I wondered if I was going to be able to make the right moves and create the right kind of atmosphere for those kind of expectations to be fulfilled."

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Clark likely didn't breathe a sigh of relief until the day the Falcons hoisted the Division IV championship plaque after beating El Rancho, 3-0, at Warren High on March 2, culminating a marvelous run that contained plenty of white-knuckle moments, but never a defeat in 26 matches.

The Falcons' season was extended by a week with an invitation to the CIF Southern California Regional Division I playoffs, where the team came within one win of capturing a de facto state crown before finally suffering its only loss of the season to Paramount on March 10 at Warren.

Clark said that because of his experience with the program coming in, there was no feeling out period that a new coach might normally require. He knew his roster, the level of skill it possessed and exactly what was expected of it. The first task was getting all that talent, as well a personalities to mesh.

"One of the things that concerned me at the beginning of the year was if people felt like they should have been in the starting lineup and weren't," Clark said. "Early in the year I had them sit down and make up their own starting 11 and said, 'OK, if you're not on your own list, how are you going to get there?'

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