By Rick Assad
There is real uncertainty as to when the high school football season will commence its season. And that’s because of the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic which has the world on pause.
But whether football begins in the fall or another time, Aram Araradian will be under center for the Burbank High team.
“The expectation is that there will be a season and we need to prepare as such,” said Araradian, who completed 112 of 199 attempts for 56.2 percent and threw for 1,958 yards with 13 touchdowns and eight interceptions in seven and one quarter games after suffering a season-ending injury. “Now, what we do to prepare may currently be affected and different from the norm, but we are all doing what we can. I think there is a great lesson in all this with learning to be concerned with only the things that we can control and doing what we can to effect the desired outcome.”
Araradian then added: “Our 2021 senior class is a tightly knit group of friends and we are all on the same page of what needs to be done,” he said.
The coronavirus outbreak has changed the way Araradian, who passed for more than 350 yards twice last season and accounted for one rushing score, has been able to prepare for the season.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has really forced us to change everything we had planned for this offseason and summer,” he said. “I was planning on in-person visits to a number of colleges as well as participating in some showcase camps, but that will not happen. We are basically in a holding pattern waiting to see how things will unfold. Everyone is in the same predicament, so there is nothing we can do except wait.”
On July 20, the CIF Southern Section, the high school governing body, will try to render some clarity when it will announce a fall schedule.
Though Araradian, who was on the freshmen squad and junior varsity as a sophomore and played a few varsity games during that stretch, had a productive junior campaign, it was cut short because of an injury.
“I got injured in the beginning of the second quarter of game eight last year against Muir High [a 20-15 loss],” said Araradian, voted Offensive Player of the Year as a freshman and Player of the Year as a sophomore. “I rolled out to my left, threw a pass and got hit and landed awkwardly on my shoulder which resulted in the sprain of the AC shoulder [acromioclavicular joint].”
Araradian added: “Being on the sideline and not being able to play had to be one of the hardest things I have gone through,” he noted. “I did not want to let down my team and coaches and wanted to go back out, but I couldn’t move my arm and the sideline doctor did not allow me to go back in the game. I never imagined that would be the last game of my junior year.”
After losing to Muir, the Bulldogs then defeated Glendale 27-0, before being edged by rival Burroughs 29-28.
Burbank won a CIF Southern Section first-round Division VII playoff game versus Don Lugo 40-20, but then fell to Serrano 35-13 in a quarterfinal match.
Because football is a high-contact sport, getting hurt is a real possibility.
“I know injuries are part of the game and can happen at any time,” Araradian said. “That is why I do my best to take care of my body in the offseason by eating right and hitting the gym to get stronger and faster. I have two trainers, A.J. Moosa and Chris Aguado at District Sports with whom I work out with three to five times a week and they have really gotten me strong. I also have a nutritionist [Tommy Clarck] and a chiropractor [Dr. Sarkis Cholakyan and Dr. Sevak Ovsepyan] I visit regularly.”
Burbank coach Adam Colman, who quarterbacked the Bulldogs a few years ago and graduated from UCLA, leaps high praise on his senior field general, who has claimed the Student-Athlete Award every year.
“He’s the ultimate leader by example,” he said. “He is so focused and works so hard, it’s impossible for others to not follow his lead. He helps create a culture of competitiveness and determination. Every day is a chance to get better.”
Moving the Bulldogs downfield and scoring a touchdown or even a field goal is challenging, but thrilling for Araradian.
“My thoughts are more on the execution of the play,” he said. “I trust my coaches and teammates and as we are marching down the field my concern is about making the right reads and executing on the play and protecting the possession.”
For Araradian, there is something special about football.
“I think it is the perfect parallel to life and everything it throws at you,” he said. “Football teaches you to be prepared, be a team player, be accountable and stay sharp both mentally and physically. It also teaches you to strategize and look at the long-term goals and how to set up your next move.”
Though Araradian has been on the varsity fulltime for one season, he proved the stage wasn’t too grand.
“I think my success comes from the fact that throwing has become second nature and I do not have to think about the mechanics of throwing,” he said. “I have been working with my quarterback coach [Anton Clarkson] since I was eight years old and have repeated the correct motions of the quick release, the accurate throw, the finesse throw, the strong throw, the timing on the throws and the proper drops for each throw. So, when I’m playing in a game, I do not have to think about anything but dissecting the defense and taking what it gives me. I also spend a lot of time breaking down film and looking at tendencies so I can make my decisions faster.”
Because of Araradian’s 4.0 grade-point average and football acumen along with skill, several colleges are interested in the left-hander thrower.
They number Whittier College in Southern California, Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas and Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, who have offered Araradian football scholarships along with eight others who are interested and they partially include Yale University, Columbia University and the University of San Diego.
“I would love to have the opportunity to play at the next level,” said Araradian, who isn’t sure what he will major in, but is leaning towards law or business. “That is my goal. I believe my determination, work ethic and attention to detail are the things that will set me apart. I take pride in what I do, regardless of what it is and get laser focused on the task(s) at hand.”
Looking to the future is certainly fine, but Araradian has an important job right now and that’s leading the Bulldogs on the football field, whenever that is.