Burroughs Senior Running Back Goes For History Tonight Against Muir
By Tom Crowther
BurbankNBeyond Sports Editor
It seems almost certain that Indians’ running back Zander Anding will make local history tonight, the only suspense remaining appears to be on what level.
With 118 yards against the Muir Mustangs tonight, Anding will record the all-time single season rushing record in the Burroughs football program’s storied history. With a fifth-straight 300+ yard evening, he would move into the very elite company of only one other and on a much bigger stage. Anding would join former Ventura High star Tyler Ebell as the only high school player in state’s history to reach the 300-yard plateau in five consecutive games.
“The name Tyler Ebell has come-up a lot this week,” head coach Keith Knoop admits, “But I am sure Muir will have something to say about that.”
It is almost certain that Knoop had to explain to Burroughs players this week who Ebell was, but the local media that has stormed Anding and the Indians’ campus of late knows the name well. Ebell rushed for 300 or more yards ten times his senior season at Ventura en route to over 7,000 yards in a career that sent him onto UCLA and beyond. To be mentioned in the same breath is to have already accomplished much this season.
To his credit, Anding continues to say and do all the right things. He is quick to give credit where equal credit is due — deflecting much of the attention to the Burroughs offensive line and coaching staff after each outing. Among the many he says deserves credit is an all senior line of Gus Ferrat, Forrest Stevens, Daniel Marbach, Paul Martinez and Thomas Liro.
“Those guys open some amazing holes for me to run through,” Anding says.”We wouldn’t be having talk about records and we wouldn’t be winning all these (league) games without them.”
In addition, Anding credits Knoop, offensive line coach, Mike Reily, and running backs coach, Earl Hollingshed as well — all teachers and long time coaches at the school.
“All of them,” Anding says. “Shed and I are especially close, but all of them do such a good job of preparing us for games that things slow down and come pretty easy come kick off.”
Anding also says he is helped by a very supportive mother and his grandparents. In the case of the latter, they make the trip from Lancaster each game day in order to see him play. He is also motivated by trying to show his younger brother, Aiden, how to get it done. Aiden is a JBHS freshman.
Anding believes dedication from a group of mostly seniors has made the big difference for the Burroughs team as a whole this season.
“A lot of seniors who have known each other a long time,” he says. “I’ve known Gus (Ferrat) since the first grade.”
No one panicked when the Indians started 0-3 having faced three former Foothill League foes in nonleague play. The line was gelling and he was racking-up yards and they knew that things would change once Pacific League play began. When the Indians scored almost 50 points and Anding put-up a school record single-game mark of 326 yards in the league opener against Pasadena, all was right in Indian Country.
Last week, Anding had 364 yards in a tough battle with Crescenta Valley, now only the second best school total to the 393 yards he racked-up against Glendale on October 10, a game in which he did not carry the ball in the fourth quarter.
The biggest league win came at Arcadia High, where Anding had 319 yards. Arcadia and Burroughs shared the league crown last season.
His 1883 yards on only 154 carries is good enough for a 12.2 yard-per-carry clip and put him within striking distance of the single season mark of 2001 yards set by Dominic Barnes in 2008. But where Barnes churned out yards with a basic North-South style that makes for a great high school player, Anding has the speed, athleticism and strength that draws the attention of college coaches.
“The attention is flattering and a lot to get use to,” Anding admits, “But honestly the only thing I know right now is that I wanted to have a memorable senior year and help my team when a league title. I also know that I want to play college ball next season and I just want the right opportunity to do it.”
When asked what pro player he would compare his style to, Knoop replied, “OJ Simpson,” not only because of his style of running but because of his ability to see lanes as they open. This is appropriate since Knoop’s squad has been the equivalent to USC’s mantra of “Tailback U” during his 15-year tenure as head coach.
“We have had a lot of 1,000 yard guys,” he acknowledges, “But Zander is pretty special.”
Knoop says he first saw the light go on for Anding when he had a chance to play varsity last season as a junior.
“The kid is incredibly athletic, but he also had so many outside interests that were distractions like bikes, skateboards, girls… I am not sure he started a game on JV because he missed a lot of practices and stuff, but that is not the case anymore,” says Knoop. “He now sets the tone on the field at practice and in the weight room, he is 100% all-in.”
Last season as a junior, Anding racked-up a total of 11 touchdowns and 659 yards rushing in limited action. Not bad considering he was plagued by injuries that included a broken pinkie and a broken hand and he was sharing time with older players.
Heading into tonight’s game versus Muir, he has 2, 542 career rushing yards and is about 1,000 yards off of the school’s all-time career mark. Though the Mustangs pose a huge challenge, with softer defenses in Hoover and Burbank left on the schedule before the CIF Southern Section playoffs, Thomas Kyle’s career mark is indeed obtainable. Not too shabby for a student-athlete few off the Burroughs campus knew of before the season. Anding takes it in stride and keeps the conversation mostly on teammates and tonight’s game.
“Muir is so athletic and so fast, they will be a real challenge,” he says. “I know the line will be there tonight, I just have to find the hole and run through it.”
Like every opponent the Indians have faced this season, the Mustangs will place eight or nine in the box and pull out all the tricks in an effort to stop Anding. Like every opponent so far, they will likely find it easier said than done.