By Dick Dornan
myBurbank Sports Editor
They may not possess the glitz and glamour like their neighborhood rivals from up the street. They do, however, represent a brand of football that the Stanford Cardinal would be mighty proud of.
The Burroughs Indians kick-off their regular season slate of games tonight against Calabasas at Memorial Field sporting a fresh look with new uniforms quite similar to the boys on the Farm in Palo Alto. Why not when both schools don red and white as their school colors and play a style that patterns each other?
One look in the mirror and the Indians see the Cardinal. After all, Stanford was known as the Indians until the name change in 1972. But the similarities don’t end there.
Since becoming head coach of Burroughs 18 years ago, Keith Knoop has built a program that prides itself on toughness, discipline, respect and hard-nosed football. It is the Indian way akin to the Cardinal way at Stanford.
While Burbank High might represent the look of a Pac-12 school with its high-flying spread offensive attack, the Indians are your classic Big 10 smash mouth group of players who will mix it up in the trenches anytime, anywhere.
This year’s team will follow in the same footsteps of past Burroughs’ squads. Scratch and claw, push and pound, scrape and grind; the Indians will get the job done reminiscent of your everyday 9-to-5 blue collar working class man.
“That’s who we are. Blue collar,” Knoop told his players one day after practice. “We are not handed anything. We need to earn everything we get.”
From the intense weight room sessions to their ironman mentality on the field, the Indians bring the wood every night.
It’s only fitting that leading the way for JBHS this season is a trio of offensive lineman who are as good as anybody in the Pacific League.
“Anytime in high school that you can get three-fifths of your offensive line back that have been together for a while is an advantage. This will really help us,” Knoop said. “They are big, strong guys who love the passion of football.”
Left tackle Andrew Mills, left guard Anthony Olea and center Shawn Edie form the left side of a line that will bring sheer brute force as they go “mano a mano” with opposing defenses. Just as Stanford does.
“We will have a really strong running game. We have a great line this year,” said Mills, a three-year starter. “And we should have a strong passing game too. We have a new quarterback who is doing really well. He’s been slinging the ball pretty well.”
Mills is the iconic symbol for the Indians and their blue collar attitude. A year ago, Mills played the entire season with an assortment of injuries but refused to ever quit or leave his teammates behind.
“You can’t keep me off the field,” he said. “I love this game too much.”
Mills is one of several captains this season. He cherishes the new role as the team is top-heavy with juniors and a few sophomores.
“I’m more of a leader now. I’m happy to be a leader on this team,” Mills said. “I’m really excited to come out here and play.”
Running behind the behemoth 300-pound hogs will be senior Michael Ospina, junior Hunter Guerin and sophomore Chance Bell. Ospina and Guerin combined for 536 yards in 2013. Be ready to ring the bell once the lightning quick Las Vegas transfer carries the ball in open space.
Seniors Aidan Anding and Anthony Archuleta and junior Erick Hernandez bring experience at wide receiver while junior Aidan Jensen has a promising future.
Making his debut at quarterback will be junior Andy Amela, a defensive back who was converted to QB after promising prospect Steven Hubbell decided to stop playing football.
Amela has transitioned well to his new position and Knoop is optimistic about Amela’s future as the Indians’ signal-caller.
“He has quietly and eagerly just taken the role on. He’s soaking it all in like a sponge,” Knoop said. “He still needs to work on the full speed aspect of the game. When the game is slow, he has really gotten it down fairly well. One day at a time. I just need to get him game ready.”
Kicker Andres Aguilar might be the team’s biggest weapon with his powerful leg. The senior will have a major impact on special teams.
The Indians are extremely inexperienced on the defensive side of the ball. However, Anding, Archuleta and Guerin will play on defense as well in the secondary providing much needed leadership. Guerin is one of a handful of players who signifies the ironman mentality playing both ways.
“It’s really hard,” Guerin said. “I just have to be conditioned and go hard and full speed at all times.”
Junior linebackers Connor Garden and Branden Garcia, junior defensive end Anthony Garcia and junior cornerback Nick Tipton will help aid the cause for the youthful Indians defense.
“We have a lot of talented players but on the flip side of that is we are pretty young,” Knoop said. “A lot of our players are juniors and we even have a few sophomores. Many of whom haven’t started a varsity game yet. They are young but they are only going to get better. They are going to have to grow up fast.”
This we do know. Burroughs embraces its identity more so than any other program at school. Tough on the outside and even tougher on the inside.
The Indians will begin the season at home for the first two games before hitting the road for five consecutive weeks. The 66th “Big Game” vs. Burbank will be held on November 7.