By Rick Assad
There is always something extra special when a team gets its first win of the season, and it’s even better when the victory snaps a five-game losing streak.
That’s exactly what happened to the Burroughs High football team on Friday night at Memorial Field as the Bears handed Westchester a 21-6 drubbing in a nonleague match before a lively gathering.
After getting blanked 32-0 a week ago by host St. Genevieve and then losing the last four Pacific League games of the previous season, the Bears finally were able to celebrate.
Burroughs seized control by establishing a solid running attack despite not having senior Jon English in the lineup after getting banged up the week before.
Behind the duo of senior Marcus Manahan (52 yards on 19 rushes) and senior Nathan Howland-Chhina, who collected a pair of rushing touchdowns in the opening half and a nice mix of passes from junior quarterback Blake Dycus, who unloaded a second-half scoring toss was more than enough offense.
Let’s not forget the defense, which was stout, not allowing a score until the third quarter.
Jesse Craven, the Burroughs coach, liked the fact that the squad bounced back.
“I saw our team much improved from last week,” he said. “Our defense continued to play well. Our offense was able to find some rhythm once the running game started.”
Neither team located the end zone until Burroughs’ third series of the game when it moved 45 yards on seven plays.
The capper was a 21-yard burst from Howland-Chhina (game-best 108 yards on 12 carries) as 11:53 was left in the second quarter.
The Bears (1-1) dashed ahead 14-0 after they forced a fumble by senior quarterback Teyon Boatner, which was recovered by defensive lineman Howland-Chhina at the Comet five-yard line.
A five-yard penalty moved the ball back to the 10 on first down, and after Manahan gained no yards, a five-yard fumble by Dycus, who was trying to pass the ball pushed the football back to the 15-yard line.
From there, Howland-Chhina delivered a nifty 15-yard scamper as 1:03 was left before halftime.
Burroughs extended its lead to 21-0 on the initial possession of the second half as the Bears began the march at their 43-yard line.
After six plays, Dycus drilled senior wide receiver Elijah Aldana-Pere (33 yards on four receptions) with an 11-yard bullet as 8:46 remained in the third quarter.
“Today was a good day because I think that we finally found our groove. I think that we’ll continue to get better from here,” said Dycus, who completed 10 of 14 pass attempts for 67 yards. “We just have to focus and make sure that we don’t lose our tempo.”
Dycus was especially pleased and thankful for the big men up front who afforded himself and the running backs room to roam.
“The offensive line did a really great job,” he said. “I’m so proud of them. The run game was very good. I will give it to the line tonight. They did so well.”
Dycus wanted to play better than he did in the game against St. Genevieve, but feels as though he’s going to improve and make serious strides. “I got a few good passes, but I still have some things to fix,” he said.
On the Comets’ second series of the second half, Westchester, which lost at Fairfax 17-9 and at home to El Segundo 29-27, started a march from the Comet 20-yard line.
Slowly and methodically, the visitors drove down the field and after 13 plays, Boatner (eight of 14 for 84 yards) located junior wide receiver Noah Evans with an eight-yard toss as 2:15 was left in the fourth period.
Without a reliable place kicker, Westchester (0-3) opted for the two-point conversion, which failed after Boatner (six rushes for no yards) was sacked on the play as the Comets trailed by 15 points.
Burroughs sophomore kicker Brodie Kemp booted three extra points, but missed three field goals, all wide left.
Kemp’s initial attempt was a 36-yarder and came with 3:34 left in the second quarter.
This march began at the Burroughs 43-yard line and ended at the Westchester 19.
The second missed field goal was a 27-yard boot that came with 8:56 left in the fourth period.
Burroughs commenced this trek at the Westchester 49-yard line and ended it at the Comet 10-yard line.
A third try wasn’t the charm for Kemp, who missed a 36-yard kick with 1:42 remaining on the clock as the six-play, 18-yard march fizzled.
Burroughs hits the road for a nonleague game with Hueneme on Friday and a 7 p.m. start.