By Rick Assad
When it comes to which local team dominated boys’ water polo, the answer almost always is Burroughs High.
Not last year as rival Burbank was the superior team and proved it by making the CIF Southern Section Division VI championship match only to fall 12-9 to Carpinteria and just shy of its intended goal of capturing the title.
Onetime Burroughs star David Arakelyan is in his second season at the helm for the Bulldogs.
In a very short period of time, Arakelyan changed the culture and pride of the program. He also believes this squad will once again battle for the Pacific League crown.
Missing of course is Johnny Agazaryan, the Pacific League Player of the Year who helped Burbank finish 22-3 overall and 8-0 for the top spot in the league.
“I expect our team to be right up there with all the other teams competing to win the league championship again,” Arakelyan said. “Last year was the first time we won our league since 1969. It was a great accomplishment for our program and our school, and we want to do it again.”
According to Arakelyan the best players returning include junior goalie Alec Chalkdzhyan along with senior driver Zack Gezalyan, junior driver Andranik Bilbulyan and junior center defender Hayk Atanasyan.
That’s an excellent nucleus and there will be a strong lineup behind these four players.
They include seniors Narek Abedian, Arman Hovhanissyan and Andy Gezalyan.
There are three more juniors on the team, and they are Alex Kobalyan, Arthur Saryan and Raffi Gevorgyan.
The rest of the squad includes sophomores Christian Lazaryan, Eric Avetisyan, Danny Agazaryan, Gevorg Choginyan and Greg Baboudjian. The lone freshman on the team is Jack Babelyan.
Looking at the entire season, Arakelyan thinks that the team will have an outstanding campaign.
“We did get bumped up to Division II, however, my guys have been training hard all summer and we have a really tough schedule ahead of us,” he said. “I expect our team to be right up there competing for a top spot in our division. As always the goal is to win, and we are going to try to continue to do that.”
The Bears are looking to rebound after a subpar outing a year ago in which they went 13-14 in all matches and 3-5 in league play.
According to Jacob Cook, the longtime coach, the best returning players are senior Harrison Zekowski, sophomore Logan Turla, sophomore Ian Duffield and sophomore Harrison Siegel.
“We have a few senior returners that will lead the team but have young talent that will build into the coming years,” he said. “We look forward to seeing what the team will do. They have a tight bond from summer training.”
The rest of the team consists of seniors Eddie Antonio, Jonah DuFour, Jean Paul Medrano, Liam Peek, Rodrigo Ramirez and Ryan Rolando.
The other players on the team are sophomores and they include Winston Bromhead, Joshua Castaneda, Atticus Mata and Dean Yuzna.