By Dick Dornan
BurbankNBeyond Sports Editor
Since Burbank Coach Hector Valencia arrived to take over the reins of the Bulldog football program in 2009, there has been an emphasis on a quick-strike, powerful running attack that has produced a multitude of points on the board and excitement on the field.
The aggressive running style manufactured 34 points per game in his initial season and a league championship for the first time at BHS since 1972.
This year might be no different.
Burbank is averaging 29.8 ppg and 317 yards rushing per game and is off to a 3-2 overall record including a 2-0 start in Pacific League play.
While credit has to be given to Valencia, offensive coordinator Richard Broussard, the offensive line and running backs Teddy Arlington, Joseph Pendleton and Joseph Argenziano, one cannot help but notice the bright future ahead for James Williams.
Williams, a 16-year-old sophomore, has captivated Bulldog coaches, players and fans with his flashy moves, quick cuts, extraordinary balance, strength and quickness. He is a moving highlight reel on grass. His legs churn away constantly as he refuses to go down.
“He’s doing things that I can’t coach,” Broussard said. “He has the ability that is something special. The sky is the limit for him.”
Williams’ goal is to score on each play, and why not when he scored every third time he would touch the ball for the freshman team a year ago?
Last week against Arcadia, the defending league co-champion, Williams rushed for 193 yards on 16 carries and three touchdowns. His scoring runs of 63, 18 and 32 had everyone at Memorial Field screaming and searching for adjectives to describe what they just saw.
“Some of his runs were incredible. He was making some runs that were highlight films,” Valencia said.
After the game, Williams remained humble as he talked about the team’s big 41-20 win.
“Our line blocked great today and Ryan (Meredith) had another good game too,” Williams said. “In practice we are working harder. Everybody is getting better.”When asked about HIS performance, Williams sounded like a senior.
“Last week I looked at film when we played Hoover. I wasn’t doing anything that I did today,” Williams explained. “This week I worked on running harder, hitting the holes quicker and getting my vision right. Then I want to just outrun everyone. I did ok but I still need to improve.”
For the season, Williams has rushed for 637 yards on 68 carries (9.37 avg) and nine touchdowns. He had an 89-yard touchdown run in his first varsity game versus Chatsworth.
“The whole summer I had nothing to do but work on my game,” Williams said. “I have to work harder to get faster.”
Williams moved from the Midwest in 2010 and enrolled at Luther Middle School. He instantly became a hit when he rushed for close to 2,000 yards for the Burbank freshman team including an astonishing 36 touchdowns.
“Every time he touched the ball he did something remarkable,” said Valencia of his super soph.
The Ohio-native lists Ohio State, UCLA and USC as his favorite collegiate teams. His dream is to receive a Division I scholarship and one day play in the NFL where his idol, LaDainian Tomlinson, shined for 11 seasons and recently retired in 2011.
“I try to run just like him because he runs hard, he has balance too and it is hard to get him down so I try to be like him,” said Williams, who also lists the Pittsburgh Steelers as his favorite NFL team.The Bulldogs are striking fear into their opponents with an up-tempo offense that features the electric running of Williams and a host of other backs. As long as #21 receives a carry here and there, Burbank is in good hands with Williams.
“He is the hardest working kid in the program. He finishes first in sprints and does everything 100 percent,” Valencia said. “He’s always trying to get better. He doesn’t take things for granted.”
“He wants to be great and great is one door away. He strives for a flawless game,” Broussard added. “I’m not really surprised by how hard he works. He puts in a lot of work into his game on and off the field.”
Here is some valuable advice for all fans. Don’t leave for the snack bar or restroom when Burbank is on offense. In the blink of an eye, something special might occur when Williams gets a hold of the pigskin.
And just for extra measure, take a thesaurus along with you to find the next word to describe what you just saw.