By Rick Assad
It’s a modest winning streak to begin the season at four by the Burroughs High football team, but it’s still impressive.
Before this past Wednesday, the Bears were scheduled to play North Hollywood, but a lack of players forced the Huskies to cancel.
La Canada became available when its opponent couldn’t field a team after a few players were forced to the sideline because of COVID-19, and so the Bears hosted the Spartans in a nonleague game at Memorial Field on Friday night.
What happened during 48 minutes of play was Burroughs emerged the winner, 39-13, as senior quarterback Chris Kulikov threw four touchdowns passes.
It didn’t hurt that the Bears dented the end zone with two scoring runs, and for good measure senior wide receiver/cornerback Jake Scozzola had a first half interception and senior wide receiver/cornerback Ryan Hernandez added a pick in the second half.
Burroughs coach Jesse Craven said that this was the best his team has performed in all three phases up to this point in the campaign.
“It was the most complete game across the board so far,” he said of the team after its convincing win.
The Bears (4-0) led 6-0 after the first period and 26-7 at the intermission and added a pair of touchdowns in the third quarter.
When the Spartans (2-2) drove from the La Canada 35-yard line and consumed 13 plays that ended at the Bears’ 19-yard on a fourth and seven, the Bears took over.
It took five plays for Burroughs to march 81 yards that included a nine-yard run by Kulikov on first down and a 43-yard scamper by Kulikov that placed the ball at the Spartan 26.
“Chris and the offense did a great job of drive after drive finding ways to get into the end zone,” Craven said of his signal caller who had 185 passing yards on 12 of 17 attempts and 126 yards running the ball on 10 carries.
Two plays later, Kulikov spotted Scozzola (112 yards on seven receptions) with a 20-yard strike as the Bears led 6-0 with 58 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
On Burroughs’ next series, which began at the Bears’ 31, Kulikov had a 12-yard pass to Scozzola.
Kulikov hit Scozzola with a 15-yard toss and added a 12-yard pass to senior wide receiver/free safety Ethan Hubbell (33 yards on two catches) that set up Kulikov’s 21-yard scoring rocket to Hubbell with 8:06 left in the second quarter for a 13-0 advantage.
The Spartans narrowed the lead to 13-7 on a four-play, 65-yard drive as senior quarterback Mackey Plocher had a 41-yard scoring strike with 5:53 left in the opening half.
Burroughs’ lead expanded to 20-7 when senior wide receiver/outside linebacker Santiago Sanchez capped a 77-yard, 13-play excursion when he scored from a yard out and 1:36 showing in the second period.
With mere minutes to play in the first half, Scozzola picked off Plocher and after five plays and 39 yards gained by the Bears, Kulikov found senior wide receiver/outside linebacker Alex Valenzuela (32 yards on two receptions) with a 16-yard toss and a 19-point lead.
On the Bears’ first possession of the second half, Kulikov ended a four-play, 80-yard drive with a 27-yard scoring toss to Scozzola as 10:37 was left in the third quarter and Burroughs in front 32-7.
La Canada responded with its second touchdown of the evening as Plocher hit senior wide receiver/defensive back Tyler Bond with a five-yard pass as 6:16 remained in the third period. The nine-play, 77-yard drive sliced the lead to 32-13.
The game’s final touchdown came when Scozzola took an end around from Kulikov into the end zone with 57.3 seconds left in the third quarter, highlighting an 80-yard, 10-play march.
The Bears’ defense has allowed just 30 points this season that included a shutout of Harvard-Westlake in the season opener.
“Defensively, overall I liked our performance,” Craven said. “There are little things to clean up before we play an extremely tough opponent this week.”
Burroughs will host always ready and well-prepared Village Christian, which is 3-1 with the only loss to Salesian 31-13, on Thursday at 7 p.m. at Memorial Field.