None of the three local high school boys’ soccer teams qualified for the CIF playoffs last season.
With a new season set to begin, Burbank, Burroughs and Providence would like to move in the opposite direction.
The Bulldogs, Bears and Pioneers just might have the talent to be in position to achieve that goal. Each squad will return several key players, while also tapping into an upcoming group of freshmen and sophomores to try to help speed up the process.
Burbank will have a new coach.
Here’s a closer look at the teams.
The Bulldogs usher in a new era after bringing in Johnny Rotunno to oversee the program. Burbank finished 9-8-3, 5-6-3 in the Pacific League for fifth place last season. Crescenta Valley won the league championship.
Rotunno, a Village Christian graduate, said he’s encouraged from what he’s seen during two scrimmages.
“We won a couple of scrimmages and I have a better idea about what our guys can do,” Rotunno said. “We looked good and we’re trying to give them everything they need in order to succeed and be the best they can.
“We want to be able to hit the season in stride and be ready for league. We know it’s going to be a good league again, so we have to be ready to go. We will.”
Burbank, which will compete in Division V, will return most of its core from a season ago. The Bulldogs will count on senior forward/midfielder George Atallah, senior defenders Andrew Rodriguez and Allan Rodriguez, senior goalkeeper Hayk Tovmasyan and junior midfielder Rigoberto Garcia to lead the charge.
Similar to Burbank, Burroughs will bring back many of its athletes. The Bears went 7-10-3, 3-8-3 in the Pacific League for sixth place last season.
Burroughs, under the guidance of coach Makan Afzali, feature plenty of players who competed at the club level to gain additional valuable experience.
“That’s a very good sign to see them playing club soccer,” Afzali said. “It means they are ready to go and you become more confident.
“We’ve been looking good at practices and it’s good to see them have some more experience. You always want to try to make the playoffs. We can do that if we click together and stay healthy.”
Burroughs will be paced by senior strikers Joseph Earl and Dominic Quijada, junior striker Alex Loera and junior defender Danny Pascual.
The Bears will be in Division VI.
There’s plenty of room for the Pioneers to grow. Providence will field a 20-player squad, providing depth and potential versatility.
The Pioneers went 4-10-2, 0-7-2 for last place in the four-team Prep League last season. Pasadena Poly finished first in league, which also includes Flintridge Prep and Chadwick, a season ago.
Providence coach Rey Suarez said the Pioneers may be in line to move up in league this season.
“This could be the year we finish first or second in league and make the playoffs,” said Suarez, whose team will be in Division VII. “We’re connecting and developing and we know what we want. We want to build on the momentum we gained from late last season when we played much better.
“We had a scrimmage recently against Maranatha and I liked what I saw. All of the other teams in our league had a lot of seniors last season. I expect to make noise and hope we are in a great position to go further than last year.”
Providence will rely on senior centerback Nico Ortiz, senior goalkeeper Jason Chavez, sophomore forward John Matar and sophomore defender Sean Banashek.