By Rick Assad
It’s going to be fun watching the local boys’ water polo teams, Burbank High and Burroughs, this campaign after having strong outings a season ago and some disappointment.
The Bulldogs had an impressive 26-2 overall record and 9-0 in the Pacific League, but just before the CIF Southern Section Division VI playoffs, it was reported a few illegal players were used and some matches were forfeited and there was no postseason.
This is all in the past and David Arakelyan, a one-time Burroughs standout water polo player and Bulldog coach, is only looking forward.
Burbank boasts seventeen players including eight seniors and they are goalie Alec Chalkdzhan, backup goalie Alexander Mnatsakanyan, Hayk Atanasyan, Andranik Bilbulyab, Alex Kobalyan, Michael Misakyan, Arthur Saryan and Rafael Gevorgyan.
Six juniors are on the Bulldogs’ roster, and they are backup goalie Christian Lazaryan, Alex Vardanyan, Avet Avetisyan, Daniel Agazaryan, Greg Baboudjian and Geverg Choginyan.
There are two sophomores, and they include Jack Babelyan and Leo Khachaturian and one freshman Avvo Ilangesyan.
“I am very excited to get the season underway,” Arakelyan said. “Our boys have been putting in hard work all year leading up to this and we’ve had some of our best practices as of late.”
Arakelyan wants to see his team in the water and play matches that count.
“We’re ready to get going. The goal is always the same and that’s to be competing for championships,” he noted. “I expect us to be competing for a [Pacific] League title and make a deep run into the playoffs.”
The Bears are looking for a breakout season after posting a 9-9 overall mark and 5-3 in league.
There are two seniors and they include Lee Ryan and Alec Lazarev.
Ten juniors join them, and they are Harrison Siegel, Logan Turla, Ian Duffield, Atticus Mata, Caleb DuFour, Micah Abbey, Josh Castaneda, Aidan Means, Justin Molina, and Dean Yuzna.
There are three sophomores on the squad, and they include Nicola Nasev, Tyler Jones, and Nicolas Oporta.
Longtime Burroughs head coach Jacob Cook knows that he doesn’t have many seniors but likes the underclassmen.
“We are excited for this season. We have a young but experienced team returning with guys like Harrison Siegel, Logan Turla, Ian Duffield, and Atticus Mata leading the charge,” he said. “Our league should be competitive, and we are looking to compete for the top spot as always.”
Martin Ortega Jennison is the co-head coach and is looking for the team to be competitive.
“This year we have a lot of potential having a young core of boys with few seniors. We have some talented juniors ready to take the lead this year. With a lot of our boys playing in the off season for club teams in the area, I’m ready to see the leadership and skills they worked on this past spring and summer,” he said. “With most of them playing easily 100 games, if not more during that time, we had a few boys competing on Junior Olympic teams in July in Orange County which was great for them.”
Ortega Jennison added: “The experience they bring will make this team competitive against any teams we play,” he said. “This is going to be a fun year to go out and upset some teams along the way and give them our best. I’d say we are the underdogs but I don’t think that describes us best. We are the sleeping Bear that is finally waking up so best get out of our way.”
Siegel is confident in what this team can do and accomplish.
“Our varsity team has a few seniors, but our junior class is deeper than most teams,” he said. “We are planning to be better than last year, and I have high hopes regarding our success in season, especially because of our strong chemistry and the winning culture our coaches have implemented into the program.”
Duffield is on the same page as Siegel.
“We are expecting a season with hard work and intense competition in front of us,” he said. “Overall we are hoping to improve our game, grow as a team, and come out on top.”
Turla is hoping for the best. “Expecting a great outcome from our team this season,” he said.