By Rick Assad
In nearly every single case, the prep football season begins in late August or early September.
But today is not normal, not with COVID-19 still present and disrupting countless lives and routines.
And so it was on a sunny day which turned into a brisk evening and on the first day of spring, the Burroughs High football team finally played its first game. The end result was a grand one for the visitors.
After a slow start, Burroughs used a two-touchdown second quarter and then tacked on two more touchdowns in the second half and prevailed 30-14 over San Marino in a nonleague game.
“It got pretty cold once the sun went down, so it felt like a normal fall game!,” said first-year Burroughs coach Jesse Craven about the initial contest being played in March. “And now we are in the season, it feels very normal.”
Senior tailback Luke Rogers hasn’t put on shoulder pads or a helmet in more than a year after missing a good chunk of the 2020 season due to an injury.
On Friday night, Rogers, who had one scoring run in the second half, was the workhorse, garnering a game-high 202 yards on a match-best 30 carries.
It seemed that every time Rogers touched the football, something good happened which pleased Craven.
“Luke’s success tonight is him and the offensive line. This was his first game in over a year and a half after missing the majority of his junior year with an injury,” he noted. “So it’s a real credit to the work and commitment that Luke has put in to prepare himself for this opportunity.”
Sophomore running back Marcus Manahan (52 yards on nine carries) chipped with two rushing tallies and junior quarterback Jon English added one in the second half.
Former Burroughs standout wide receiver and college player Erick Hernandez was happy with how the game turned out, despite the slow beginning.
“I thought we started off a little out of sync defensively, but we were able to fix things quickly and hold them to 14 points,” said Hernandez, who is the wide receivers and cornerbacks coach. “There is still so much to work on, but for an extremely young team, we played pretty well.”
Hernandez went on: “I was proud of the physicality we displayed throughout the game. That’s sort of the new brand of football we are bringing in with Coach Craven,” he said. “I think this was a good first game for us. San Marino had some guys and we managed to take care of business tonight. It’s great to be back! We are excited to get a chance to play in the Rose Bowl next week.”
Freshman kicker Brodie Kemp began the night’s scoring when he banged home a 30-yard field goal after Burroughs blocked San Marino’s punt.
Burroughs took over possession at the Titan 22-yard line and after four straight runs and one completed pass of four yards by English, Kemp nailed his kick early in the opening quarter.
San Marino took the ensuing kickoff and began its drive at the 37-yard line. It took just one play to pull ahead 7-3 on a 63-yard throw and run from senior quarterback Niko Mavridis to sophomore fullback Ryan Singhal.
Burroughs began to take control on its third possession of the match when it used a time consuming, 64-yard, 12-play drive.
The capper saw Manahan race into the end zone from nine yards out with about five minutes left before halftime. The march trimmed San Marino’s advantage to 14-10.
The Titans forged ahead by four points when Mavridis hit senior running back Matthew Karapetyan with a three-yard toss early in the second frame.
“Yes, it took a bit for us to get into a rhythm on offense,” Craven said. “Once we were able to get our running game going, we were able to start sustaining drives and controlling the momentum of the game.”
When Burroughs forced the Titans to punt from their 36-yard line, the visitors took over at its 40-yard line.
The go-ahead score took seven plays and featured a 27-yard dash from Rogers on first down. Manahan tacked on a seven-yard tally with 37 seconds left in the second quarter.
After Kemp converted the extra point, Burroughs bolted ahead 17-14 and never looked back.
Burroughs took the second half kickoff, but the eight-play drive was thwarted when English was intercepted for the second time.
On the second possession of the second half, Burroughs began its trek at its own 44-yard line.
Five consecutive running plays by Rogers placed the football at the one-yard line and the score came when English (35 yards on seven rushes) carried the ball over the goal line late in the third period as Burroughs moved in front 23-14 after Kemp’s point-after attempt was blocked.
Burroughs dashed ahead 30-14 with 8:30 left in the game when it forced yet another San Marino punt.
With the ball resting at the San Marino 46-yard line, six plays were needed before Rogers scored on a two-yard blast.
The drive also saw English (seven of 13 for 107 yards and two picks) complete a sparkling 22-yard pass on second down and six from the Titan 41-yard line.
English also had a dazzling 34-yard completion before being picked off just before the end of the first quarter.
The next time Burroughs takes the field will be on Thursday at 3 p.m. when it takes on Pasadena in a Pacific League contest at the famed Rose Bowl.