By Rick Assad
Situated slightly less than two miles apart, Burroughs High and Burbank are long and fierce rivals, regardless of the sport or event.
On Friday night at Memorial Field, these two will face off on the football field for the 69th meeting in the annual Big Game, which commenced in 1949.
This time, there is a slightly unique twist because it is believed to be the first time that both schools are being coached by alumni of their respective schools.
Adam Colman, the first-year coach at Burbank, is a former Bulldog quarterback, while Mike Reily, the second-year Burroughs coach, was once an offensvive lineman for the Indians.
“I think that will be cool, but it’s about the kids,” Colman said of the upcoming match and the fact he and Reily will be on each team’s sideline. “Being a part of the Big Game, growing up watching it, playing in it, it’s an experience. It’s a fun experience for everyone, no matter what role you’re in.”
Colman knows Burroughs, with a 4-4 overall record and a 3-3 mark in the Pacific League, will be ready.
“They’ve got a really good team,” he said. “They’ve got an amazing offense. They’ve put up huge numbers all year. I think our defense will be up for the challenge.”
Reily’s squad has suffered some key injuries, but he won’t use this as an excuse.
“You’ll see who gets cleared and then game plan with those individuals and have a plan B,C and D if certain individuals are not able to go,” Reily said.
Reily knows the Bulldogs own a share of the league banner after holding off Muir 38-31 last Friday.
“Burbank is the team in the league,” Reily said. “They’re the big daddies. It is never ideal to go into that type of a game with the injuries that we have sustained, but that’s part of the deal.”
Reily is quietly confident in his staff and team.
“Our football coaching staff has a lot of experience, a lot of football IQ,” he said. “I have no doubt that we’ll be able to come up with the schemes that will help make us successful. It’s just a matter of being able to get those kids healthy enough to execute that scheme.”
Burroughs leads the all-time series 42-26 over Burbank, but the Bulldogs, who are 7-2 and 6-0 in league, have claimed four of the last five games.
Burbank is led offensively by quarterback Matthew Porras. The junior has thrown for 1,770 yards with 20 touchdowns has five interceptions and rushed for 307 yards with two scores.
Senior tailback Darnell Williams has the most yards on the ground with 577 and has tallied eight touchdowns.
Junior Chadz Vang has accumulated 325 rushing yards with three touchdowns.
Senior wide receiver Drew Pendleton has snared 39 passes for 754 yards and eight scores.
Junior Erick Harutyunyan has 19 receptions for 263 yards and four scores and junior tight end Duncan Smith has 461 yards on 37 catches for six touchdowns.
Burbank’s defense is spearheaded by Pendleton, a linebacker with 63 tackles, including 45 solo.
Senior defensive back Christian Fajardo has 43 tackles including 31 solo, senior linebacker Blake Quinteros has 41 tackles, 23 solo with three sacks, Smith, a defensive end, has 32 tackles with 21 solo and five sacks and senior defensive lineman Anthony Lira has 33 tackles with four sacks.
Senior Andrew Rovira has converted 28 extra points and nailed three of six field goals. He kicked a 48-yard field goal last week.
Junior Nathan Piper is a capable quarterback for the Indians, and if given time, will find his receivers.
When the Indians run the ball it will likely be in the hands of senior Ben Peters, a prolific running back who has topped 300 yards in several games.
Peters also toils at linebacker and defensive back.
Joining Peters in the backfield is senior Hakeem Hickman, who has been highly productive and also plays linebacker.
Senior wide receiver/defensive back Cerain Baker will not play after being ejected during the Indians’ 49-14 win over Hoover last week.
Seniors Gavin Aguilar, Charlie Rodriguez, Devin Harrison and David Lennstrom are steady targets for Piper and all play defensive back except for Rodriguez, who plays linebacker.
If it’s a close game, it could be decided by the foot of senior place kicker Jonathan Rivas.