By Rick Assad
Special to MyBurbank
Burbank High’s punishing defense didn’t lead to a Pacific League title after edging rival Burroughs, 16-10, in the regular-season finale Friday night at Memorial Field, but it did ensure the Bulldogs third place and a CIF Southern Section Southeast Division playoff berth.
In front of a capacity crowd of 6,500, the Bulldogs’ hard-hitting and swarming unit forced five turnovers, including four in the first half, and was a rallying point during the entire campaign.
Burbank (7-3 and 5-2) has now claimed three consecutive victories over Burroughs (6-4 and 4-3), and have advanced to the postseason each time.
Burroughs, fourth in league, seemed tied up from the opening kickoff and managed 183 total net yards, with 41 yards through the air.
“This [game] was a matter of who wanted to be the more physical team,” Burbank coach Richard Broussard said. “Our scheme is to hit hard. It’s going to be difficult to run against us.”
Burroughs had the football 11 times, punted three times in the opening half, and once in the second half with a fumble.
The Indians’ misery began on their opening series when junior quarterback Andy Amela was intercepted on the third play by sophomore defensive back Forrest Fajardo.
On Burroughs’ next series, the turnover bug hit again as senior lineman Kyle Alvarez recovered a fumble when confusion reigned in the Indians’ backfield on a double handoff.
For the third straight possession, the Indians turned the ball over when sophomore running back Chance Bell fumbled after a two-yard loss. This time sophomore linebacker Nick Warren pounced on the loose ball.
“This is the most man [coverage] we’ve played all season,” Broussard said. “We blitz 100 percent of the time. We have games, stunts and twists. They want to represent the blue and white to the fullest. We’re resilient.”
Burbank defensive coordinator Martin Bacon likewise beamed afterward.
“We just felt that they didn’t have a passing game,” he said. “All we had to do was stop their run. We have an aggressive group and they fly to the ball. We teach to fly around and don’t wait. We pick each other up.”
After a scoreless first quarter, the Bulldogs, who committed two turnovers in the first half, jumped ahead 6-0 with 7:37 left before the intermission after Amela was picked off by junior defensive back Aki Arlington, who raced 22 yards for the touchdown.
Burbank’s lead swelled to 9-0 just before the half when senior Ryan Boyd hammered a 29-yard field goal after Burroughs punted.
Burroughs’ initial series of the second half resulted in another punt, but the Indians didn’t fold their tent as Bell chimed in with a three-yard burst and 3:20 remaining in the third quarter that capped a seven-play, 63-yard drive and cut Burbank’s advantage to 9-7.
When Bell fumbled which Alvarez recovered, it set up senior quarterback Ryan Meredith’s 21-yard screen pass to Warren with 23.8 seconds left in the third quarter that increased Burbank’s lead to 16-7.
Burroughs responded with a 37-yard field goal by senior Andres Aguilar after Amela marched the Indians from their 17-yard line to the Bulldogs 20.
When push came to shove, it was Burbank’s defense that stepped up and made the difference in the 66th Big Game that sent the Bulldogs to the CIF Southeast Division playoffs where they will play at El Rancho on Friday.
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