When the Burroughs High football team needed yards through the air, wide receiver Erick Hernandez was the man for the job.
During his three-year varsity career at Burroughs, Hernandez proved to be a dependable and clutch receiver, finishing with 83 catches for 1,284 yards and 22 touchdowns.
Hernandez, named Pacific League first-team, Offensive Player of the Year and All-Area first team as a senior, added a pair of non-receiving scores for a total of 24.
Hernandez isn’t especially tall at 5-foot-11 or big at 165 pounds, but was quick and often found holes in the defense that allowed him to snare 36 passes for 532 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2015.
It just so happened that the Indians advanced to the CIF Southern Section Southeast Division semifinals and Hernandez was a major factor in the team’s success.
The season opened with a road setback to powerful and talented Calabasas, and then saw Burroughs win nine straight regular-season games and two in the playoffs before losing to host St. Francis 21-7.
Hernandez, who will play football for Division I-AA St. Francis University in Loretto, Pennsylvania, could catch the short and intermediate pass, but his specialty was the long toss.
“The deep passes have always been my favorite,” said Hernandez, who snared 32 passes for 564 years with 10 touchdowns, eight via receptions and was named the Burroughs Most Valuable Player as a junior. “I get to have a lot of freedom with what I do on the deeper routes as far as setting up the defender. So my speed, route running ability and hands showed on those deep routes.”
Burroughs went 11-2 and 7-0 in league play for the undisputed title.
“I thought we put Burroughs back in the spotlight,” Hernandez said. “We showed we can compete with extremely talented teams like Calabasas and we showed perseverance throughout the entire season because we were able to win a lot of games without certain key players who were injured.”
Hernandez, an Exercise Physiology major, continued: “Overall I was happy with the outcome of the season, but I do wonder what would have happened had we stayed healthy.”
Aside from his wide receiver duties, Hernandez also played in the secondary. “I have always felt comfortable playing receiver,” he noted. “I had a very aggressive mindset because I always felt like I was in control. On defense I felt that the best thing I could do was to go 100 percent all the time for the benefit of the team, even if I was somewhat uncomfortable on that side of the ball.”
Hernandez always tried to outthink the defender. “I think the best trait I brought to the FEAST was my football IQ,” he said. “That was also due to the years of experience I had on the varsity.”
Facing rival Burbank on the gridiron was an experience unto itself.
“The first two years I played Burbank on the varsity level the nerves got to me a little bit and I wasn’t comfortable,” Hernandez admitted. “This year was very different because of the teammates I was surrounded with. I felt complete confidence in myself as well as the team. I came out with a very different attitude for that game and just my senior year in general. I felt like I matured a lot over those first two years on varsity, which all came together my senior year.”
A pair of victorious league encounters remain imbedded for Hernandez. “The two games that stood out to me most my senior year from a personal stand point is definitely Arcadia and Burbank,” he noted.
The Indians actually trailed 14-0 early but came back for a 47-21 victory in the regular-season finale over the rival Bulldogs.
Why was Hernandez, whose favorite routes were the comeback and post, able to fully blossom in 2015?
“As far as being a receiver, my wide receiver coach Dwayne Frampton definitely took my game to the next level,” he said. “What set me apart my senior year was the extra work I did in the offseason and lifting with my trainer Thomas Abich. And obviously a lot of credit goes to my coaches at Burroughs who spent countless hours with the team and myself day in and day out.”
The Indians played before several large crowds at Memorial Field. Did Hernandez hear the cheering throng?
“As far as the crowd, I could only really hear certain people when I was on the sideline,” he offered. “The constant roar I heard on the field felt like silence my senior year, but after we scored or made a big play, of course I heard the roar of the crowd. I appreciate our fans more than anything. The support we received my senior year was tremendous. It made this past year very special.”