By Rick Assad
Special to BurbankNBeyond
The task facing the John Burroughs football team was to try and control Burbank’s vaunted three-headed running attack that has laid waste to nearly every squad in the Pacific League.
On a clear and crisp Friday evening at newly-renovated Memorial Field, this didn’t happen as James Williams accounted for a game-high 149 yards on 14 carries, while backfield mates Teddy Arlington added 57 yards on 12 rushes, and Joseph Pendleton 43 yards on 13 carries as the Bulldogs were never really challenged and romped to an impressive 37-14 victory before a capacity crowd of 5,500.
Burbank now awaits which opponent it will face in the opening round of the CIF Southern Section Southeast Division playoffs which commence next Friday.
In a game that can define a prep career, and one played for the 64th time, the “Big Game” is just that.
“I was thinking about this game all day,” said Williams, who finished the regular season with 1,410 yards and 17 touchdowns. “Actually, I’ve been thinking about it all week. We knew they weren’t going to take us lightly, and we weren’t going to take them lightly. My coach told us don’t let down because he knew they were going to play hard.”
For the youthful Indians (4-6, 4-3) their season is over after needing a win against the Bulldogs and some help in order to qualify for the postseason.
If there was one moment that clearly stood out, it was Williams’ eye-popping 89-yard scoring run with 8:56 left in the third quarter that increased Burbank’s advantage to 30-0.
“On that play, I was supposed to run up the middle, but I took it outside because I wanted a highlight reel,” said Williams, a sophomore, who totaled roughly 1,900 yards and 36 touchdowns on the ground a season ago for the Bulldogs freshman team. “I was trying to make it harder.”
Whether he went up the middle or outside, Williams’ scintillating touchdown run broke the game open and was a devastating blow to Burroughs.
Like several teams, Burbank (7-3, 6-1) uses a hurry-up offense, and it seemed to catch Burroughs, which trailed 24-0 at the intermission, somewhat flat-footed.
On the opening series, the Bulldogs ran 11 plays and marched from their 34-yard line to the Indians 16 with Williams carrying the ball four times for 15 yards. The end result was a 33-yard field goal by Yervand Umrikyan about midway through the first quarter.
“The first three plays I was very nervous,” said Williams, who averaged 13 yards a carry in league and 11 yards overall through 10 games. “After that I settled down and was fine.”
Burbank Coach Hector Valencia knows the importance of knocking off his cross-town rival, but making the playoffs was equally crucial, and was keenly aware that Williams would be helpful toward that goal.
“He works really hard,” said Valencia of Williams. “Of course, he has a lot of ability, but he’s also a hard worker.”
Pendleton entered the contest having rushed for 454 yards with six touchdowns, and was the first to find the end zone after capping a 42-yard, eight-play excursion with a one-yard run that made it 10-0 late in the first quarter.
After the Indians punted late in the third quarter, Burbank set up shop at the Burroughs 42-yard line, and seven plays later, Arlington’s one-yard run with 10:38 left in the fourth quarter gave Burbank a 37-0 edge.
Entering the “Big Game,” Arlington had amassed 831 yards on the ground with nine touchdowns.
Burroughs added a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter on Josh Storer’s 17-yard run and quarterback Andrew Williams’ 16-yard pass to Storer, but this night clearly belonged to the Bulldogs and its powerful running attack.