The Burbank High football program of the last 10 seasons has been a complete turnover from the previous decade.
Although Burbank had a number of talented players in the 1990s, team success was limited. In 2003, the Bulldogs broke an 11-year, 51-game Foothill League losing streak.
Since joining the Pacific League in the fall 2006, Burbank has made the playoffs eight times, going 46-24 in league.
In 2016, anything less than a playoff berth for a fifth consecutive season would be a major disappointment.
“They want to put another league title patch in the gym,” coach Richard Broussard said. “That’s their goal.”
Broussard will certainly be leading one of the teams mentioned as a strong contender to win the Pacific League title.
He counts 16 starters back from a team that went 7-4 on the field and 5-2 in league. Burbank’s official record was 6-5 as it had to forfeit a game due to an ineligible player.
“We noticed this group of kids as freshman,” Broussard said. “We heard about them coming up through the (Burbank) Vikings. They made it to the Super Bowl and 85 percent of those kids came here. That doesn’t explicate to varsity football. (But) they have worked hard.”
Burbank’s offense is led by senior quarterback Guy Gibbs (5-11, 175), who became the starter late in his sophomore year.
“He has a lot of free reign. He has to make the right decisions,” Broussard said. “I’m excited for this kid. He’s made a big jump from last season.”
In the backfield, Burbank has two fine tailbacks in senior Nick Warren (5-9, 185) and junior Darnell Williams (5-9, 185). Warren was an all-league selection as a sophomore and Williams earned second-team all-league honors last season.
Senior receiver Forest Fajardo (6-2, 190), who was the team’s offensive MVP last season, is going to be Gibbs’ biggest target when the Bulldogs pass the ball.
Fajardo had 7 touchdowns last season, including five by reception.
Sophomore Erik Harutyunyan (6-1, 160) is another receiver with a bright future.
Senior Tim Han (6-2, 230) is a returning first-team all-league pick on the offensive line. He figures to play right tackle.
At left tackle Burbank has senior Scott Breslin (6-3, 265).
Seniors Ivan Ramos (5-9, 195) and Raymond Chavez (5-6, 205) figure to hold down two other offensive line spots. Junior Anthony Lira (6-2, 200) is a versatile two-way player who will probably hold down one of the guard spots.
As talented as Burbank is on offense, the defense might actually be stronger.
Reigning Pacific League Defensive Player of the Year Andy Reyes (5-8, 185) leads the secondary as the strong safety.
The defensive line will feature senior Matt Villagran (6-3, 190), a second-team all-league pick last season. Senior Danny Porras (6-1, 240), who is being recruited by colleges for baseball, will also play up front. Lira should fill the third spot.
In the linebacker spots, senior Jake Kelley (5-11, 175) and junior Drew Pendleton (6-1, 190) figure to start.
The secondary is very talented and will include some two-way players including Fajardo, Warren and Harutyunyan. Miguel Vasquez, a second-team all-league pick last season is also back. If that isn’t enough Burbank also has Joey Miller, who finished second in the Pacific League in the 200 meters in track in 22.2 seconds.
Broussard said he expects the league race to be tight.
“It is wide open,” he said. “It is going to be a battle week in and week out.”