A season of triumph for the Burbank High football team has also been one marked by proving doubters and prognosticators wrong.
Following a 2016 season in which the Bulldogs advanced all the way to the CIF Southern Section Division VIII title game, Burbank lost a slew of senior standouts, its head coach Richard Broussard and was moved up to Division VII in the aftermath of its success.
With 23-year-old former Bulldogs quarterback Adam Colman taking over the coaching reins in his first head-coaching stint, the Bulldogs were predicted by many to finish somewhere around third or fourth in the Pacific League.
Colman understands it all and actually appreciates the motivation it’s provided, which buoyed Burbank to its first Pacific League title since 2009.
“There’s no reason we should’ve [been predicted to win league],” Colman said. “But the kids worked hard, they had a chip on their shoulders.”
Pacific League champions or not, the Bulldogs’ shoulders will hardly be chip-free when they enter the CIF Southern Section Division VII playoffs on Friday night against Tustin at Burroughs High’s Memorial Field. Games are set for 7:30 p.m. start times unless a change is agreed upon.
“Tustin’s one of the teams we thought we’d get. They’re a good team. It should be a good game to get the playoffs started,” Colman said. “It goes on with what we’ve always thought this year, is nobody believes in us but us. It’s extra motivation for us just like all season.”
Burbank (8-2) hosts a run-heavy Tustin (8-2), which finished third in the Empire League.
The numbers behind Colman’s sentiments regarding his team being overlooked come with a Bulldogs victory likely putting them against the No. 1 seed South Hills (9-1) in the quarterfinals on Nov. 17. South Hills opens up against Oxnard Pacifica (2-8). In addition, despite defeating Arcadia (No. 3 seed in Division XI) and Crescenta Valley (No. 3 seed in Division VI) in Pacific League play, the Bulldogs, winners of seven straight games, only reached No. 8 in the Division VII poll.
Tustin is coming off a 39-20 win over Cypress in which running back KC Carr churned out 316 yards in 48 carries. Carr, whose season-low was 114 yards in a 35-10 loss to Placentia Valencia, has gained 2,231 yards rushing and eclipsed 30 touchdowns on the ground.
“They run everything through him,” Colman said. “They’re pretty creative in how they get him the ball, but they’re getting him the ball.”
Burbank’s offense has been far more diverse, with quarterback Matthew Porras having thrown for 2,021 yards and 24 touchdowns. Porras is also one of three Bulldogs with more than 300 yards rushing, which includes Chadz Vang (336 yards rushing) and team-leader Darnell Williams, who boasts 741 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns.
Two-way standouts Drew Pendleton and Duncan Smith have also been invaluable to the Bulldogs.
Pendleton leads the team with 76 tackles and his 794 yards receiving are also a team-high. He’s caught 44 balls for eight touchdowns. Smith, who has 592 yards receiving and 41 tackles, leads the team with 46 catches, nine receiving scores and six sacks.
Burbank is the only Media City football team to make the playoffs. Burroughs finished 4-5 and in fifth place in the Pacific League and missed the postseason for the second consecutive year. Bellarmine-Jefferson, hoping to make the Division II eight-man playoffs for the second year in a row, went 1-6 and finished in third in the Omega League in what is likely the Guards’ last year of football.
Burbank began its memorable run last season with a 52-32 win over Brea Olinda in the first round ahead of victories against Northview and Don Lugo before a 31-21 loss to Yorba Linda in the title game.
Yorba Linda (7-3), the Division VII No. 4 seed, opens up on the road at Monrovia (4-6) and would face Don Lugo (8-2) or Pomona (6-4) in the quarterfinals. So, if Burbank has another semifinal run in it, it could line up against a familiar foe from a season ago in Don Lugo or Yorba Linda.
But first, the Bulldogs must slow down Carr and Tustin.