By Dick Dornan
myBurbank Sports Editor
Andy “Air” Amela came back just in time to re-introduce the forward pass. After sitting out three consecutive games due to a concussion, Amela returned to action in a dominant manner. The junior quarterback lit up the October sky completing 13 of 16 passes for 248 yards and four touchdowns (all in the first half) as Burroughs absolutely hammered Arcadia, 70-23, Thursday night at Memorial Field.
Amela connected with fellow junior Erick Hernandez on touchdown passes of four, 43 and 60 yards. Hernandez finished with six catches for 154 yards (all in the first half). Amela is the unsung hero of the Indians’ season while Hernandez has quietly become one of the best receivers in the Pacific League.
Together they ignited an Indians offense to score 10 touchdowns and become the first varsity home team ever to score 70 points at venerable Memorial Field.
“It felt really good to be out there,” Amela said. “Waiting for three weeks was agonizing. I wanted to play. I love the sport. I love the position.”
“It was great to have him back. For three games it was tough to pass the ball. But we handled it well,” Hernandez added. “Our line blocked good and gave him time. He made some good throws and had a good night. Hopefully he carries it into next week and the week after that.”
Hernandez and Amela have struck a chord on the field with crisp routes and precise passing.
“As soon as he became quarterback, we became a lot closer. We hang out on the weekends,” Hernandez said. “This past Sunday we threw since we knew he was going to come back this week. I talk to him a lot. We are on the same page and have good chemistry.”
“With him (Amela), we are a pretty dynamic team. We can spread the field vertically and horizontally. We can do whatever we want,” Burroughs coach Keith Knoop said. “And I’m happy for my receivers who have been stalk blocking for three weeks. They are tired of run blocking.”
Burroughs rushing attack was relentless as 12 different players carried the ball. Senior Aidan Anding rushed for 78 yards on six carries with three touchdowns (27, 1, 15); sophomore Chance Bell churned out 72 yards on eight carries and caught a touchdown; junior Hunter Guerin had 61 yards on eight carries and touchdown runs of 18 and six; and senior Michael Ospina ran for 57 yards on eight carries and had a four-yard TD run.
The Indians scored the second most points ever in school history falling just short of the 76 put on the board by the Tribe back on October 16, 2008, when Burroughs dismantled Hoover, 76-20, at Glendale High School.
Bell’s 47-yard touchdown run with less than a minute remaining was nullified on a penalty for an illegal shift that cost the Indians at tying and perhaps breaking the record with 77 points.
However, the 70 points by Burroughs marked the most points ever scored by a varsity home team at Memorial Field since the Stadium was built back in 1946. The previous mark was 69 set last season in a 69-0 Indians’ win over Hoover on Oct. 17, 2013.
Burroughs had scored 70 or more points twice previously in its history (at Hoover and at Glendale in a 70-34 victory on October 13, 2011). Now this year’s team owns the record on their home turf.
For the record, Burbank’s all-time best at Memorial Field is 63 points against Hoover on Oct. 2, 2004. The Bulldogs did score 70 in a 70-34 win at Muir in 2011.
It was a powerful performance by the Indians as they improved to 5-3 and 3-2 in the Pacific League. Two weeks remain in the regular season and Burroughs controls its own destiny. A win against Glendale next Friday followed by a win against Burbank would send the Indians back to the CIF playoffs once again as the third place team from the Pacific League.
“Now that we are healthy we are pretty dangerous. We got a lot of guys back from injury and we are getting a lot of guys involved. It’s been our forte from the beginning. We get a lot of guys touches,” Knoop said. “We are so talented everywhere that we have the ability to spread it around and keep defenses guessing. They (opponent) don’t know if you are going to give it to that guy or that guy.
“For us, we are clicking on all cylinders offensively. But we have to get better on defense. We give up a little too much. We are getting lazy and are expecting the offense to always put points up. We need to stop doing that.”
Burroughs jumped all over Arcadia (2-6, 1-4) breaking out to a 14-3 lead after the first quarter, 49-9 at the half, 70-9 after three periods, and a running clock became the Apaches best friend in the fourth.
The Indians host Glendale on Halloween night at 7 p.m. which will also be an evening of celebration as former Burroughs star offensive lineman and current Chicago Bear Eben Britton has his No. 77 retired at the school’s athletic Hall of Fame ceremony prior to the game.