Replacing 37 graduated seniors from a Pacific League championship team with a 10-2 record is something the Burroughs High football will not have an easy time duplicating.
That has left the Indians relatively young and inexperienced heading into the 2016 season, the first season for Mike Reily as the head coach.
Reily is no stranger to Burroughs. He graduated from the school in 1994. He earned a scholarship to play at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas before returning to his alma mater and has spent the past 14 seasons as an assistant to longtime head coach Keith Knoop. Knoop is now one of Reily’s assistants.
One of the brightest notes for Burroughs is that for the first time in more than a quarter of a century, the Indians enter the season with two players already committed to major college football programs.
Running back Chance Bell (5-foot-9, 180 pounds) is committed to San Diego State and offensive lineman Jesse Chamberlain (6-3, 280) has pledged his allegiance to Fresno State.
“It’s comforting to have guys like that in your program,” said Reily. “They are two of the five captains. We’re expecting a great season out of them, but this is a team sport and you need nine other guys.”
Bell, who was the Pacific League Player of the Year last year, is clearly the go-to player on offense.
Seniors Hayden Zepeda (6-1, 185) and Gabriel Pellott (5-7, 130) are competing for the chance to hand the ball off to Bell.
Bell is backed up by junior Benjamin Peters (5-7, 160), senior Nico Frugone (5-10, 180) and senior Oscar Perez (5-7, 150).
Burroughs’ group of receivers features two seniors in Taiyo Gibbs (6-0, 185) and Sammy Duran (5-9, 160) and two juniors in Cerain Baker (6-2, 185) and Gavin Aguilar (6-3, 185).
The offensive line is led by Chamberlain, an All-CIF pick last season and center Tommy Howe (6-0, 230), a returning all-league player. Juniors Erwin Hernandez (5-7, 250), Jacob Real (5-11, 245) and Adam Sporkin (6-2, 235) make up the rest of the offensive line.
“Those 37 seniors had played football together for a long time,” Reily said. “We have a young team with some key seniors. We have some kids playing varsity football for the first time. We’re trying to get up to speed and be competitive.”
On defense, Burroughs faces even more questions as Reily said few have secured starting spots.
On the defensive line, junior Daniel Duran (5-8, 180) and senior Jake Redcloud (5-11, 190) figure to see time along with Chamberlain and Howe.
In the linebacker positions, Frugone, Gibbs, senior Diego Tovar (6-0, 175), and junior Kevin Hebri (5-10, 200) appear to have the inside track at getting significant playing time.
In the secondary, senior Jerel Turla (5-6, 150) , junior Evan Osegueda (5-8, 160), junior Nick Manna (6-0, 180), Peters and Baker are fighting for playing time.