By Rick Assad
When it comes to longstanding rivalries, the city of Burbank knows a thing or two about the subject.
After all, Burbank High and Burroughs play each other in every sport and when these two meet on the gridiron, basketball court, baseball diamond, soccer pitch, swimming pool, or tennis court, it’s usually filled with excitement and thrills for those participating and those watching.
On Thursday and Friday, the Burbank Unified School District pledged its support to different teams – UCLA and USC ahead of Saturday’s tussle between the Bruins and Trojans at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum that was televised on KABC and had a 12:30 p.m. kickoff.
On Thursday at William McKinley Elementary School ahead of the UCLA-USC football game, the annual “College Rivalry Day” was held with boys and girls donning the colors of the two universities and then breaking into two teams and having a series of relay races.
Amid the races, there was a lot of yelling and screaming and rooting. The idea behind the event is to get the boys and girls interested in furthering their education beyond high school.
In some cases, the school will even take a field trip to the respective campuses in Los Angeles for USC and Westwood for UCLA.
Of course, many of the teachers and administrators were dressed in the colors of the two famous universities – blue and gold for UCLA and cardinal and gold for USC.
Some of the administrators and teachers are alumni of UCLA and USC as they beamed knowing that these youngsters were having loads of fun and that the big game was just a few days away.
On Friday, at the Burbank Unified School building, with the fight song of each university blaring away, administrators likewise wore the colors of the two schools, including Dr. Matt Hill, the Superintendent of Schools, who earned a doctorate from USC.
Dr. Sarah Niemann, Assistant Superintendent and Head of Human Relations, was also there wearing USC’s colors.
Also in attendance was Dr. Greg Miller, an administrator at Muir Middle School, who is another USC graduate.
First-year Burbank High principal, Dr. Thomas Crowther, who attended USC and is seemingly at every sporting event, was also there showing off his colors.
Oscar Macias, an administrator at Luther Middle School is another USC alum and was in full swing over the event.
Burbank has another connection to Saturday’s game and that’s Traveler, USC’s iconic mascot, who is stabled in the city and owned by Joan Asman, while his rider, Hector Aguilar, is a graduate of Burroughs High.
Coincidentally, Saturday will be the last time Aguilar sits upon Traveler, whom he has ridden him since 2005 and is retiring.
Taking over the reins starting this year will be Dana Kanstul.
USC is a 14-point favorite in this Pacific 12 Conference matchup and owns a 7-4 overall record and are 6-2 in the conference.
Freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis has enjoyed a successful season for the Trojans, having passed for 2,727 yards with 24 touchdowns and nine interceptions across 10 games after filling in for sophomore J.T. Daniels, who tore up his knee in the season-opening 31-23 win over visiting Fresno State.
USC began the season with two wins at home, but then lost in overtime on the road to Brigham Young University, 30-27.
The Trojans picked up a 30-23 win over No. 7 Utah at the Coliseum before suffering road losses to Washington 28-14 and No. 15 Notre Dame 30-27.
USC then produced four victories in its next five games including a 41-17 triumph over host California last Saturday.
UCLA, which is 4-6 and 4-3 in the conference, is led by sophomore quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, who has thrown for 2,056 yards in nine games and has tossed 17 touchdowns with 10 picks.
The Bruins began the season with three straight setbacks, but then defeated host Washington State 67-63.
UCLA then lost back-to-back games before picking up three consecutive wins, but then fell to host, No. 7 Utah 49-3, last Saturday.
The final score from Saturday’s 89th battle for the “Victory Bell” ended up being USC 52 and UCLA 35.