MEMORIAL FIELD — Hector Valencia's message to the Burbank High football team was clear after its Friday night game with Arcadia.
The Bulldogs coach warned his team the rest of the Pacific League would take notice of what happened at Memorial Field, and would likely be gunning for them when they heard how they marched the ball down the field offensively and shut down the Apaches defensively en route to a 41-20 victory to improve to 3-2, 2-0 in league.
“It's better to have a target on your back,” said Valencia, whose team improved to 3-2, 2-0 in league. “The kids have to want it and embrace it. Now we just have to go out and execute for the next three games.”
Burbank's Steven Kim, for one, has no problem being dubbed the team to beat in the Pacific League. The Bulldogs defensive lineman was crucial to his team's success defensively, as he got after the quarterback all night and racked up four sacks for a loss of 16 yards.
“We are definitely the team to beat and I think we're unstoppable,” Kim said. “We have great running backs and our defense is just the best.”
Burbank's depth at running back was on full display Friday, as the Bulldogs ran for 425 yards with two backs gaining more than 100 yards — James Williams (182 in 16 carries) and Teddy Arlington (155 in 17 carries).
“I went back and looked at film from last week's game and saw I wasn't doing some things I needed to be,” said Williams, who also ran for three touchdowns of 63, 18 and 37 yards with all three coming in the first half. “I worked on running harder, hitting holes better and my vision.”
Williams accounted for all three of Burbank's touchdowns and 124 yards in eight carries in the first half. He refused to go down easy, breaking one, two or tackles en route to the end zone.
“It was incredible the way his body made those moves,” Valencia said of Williams' performance. “I was really impressed with him tonight.”
While the Bulldogs were practically a wall defensively against Arcadia's ground game, they did give up some big plays through the air. Arcadia quarterback Zachary Lee and wide receiver Darius Elliot were responsible for all three of the Apaches (1-4, 1-1) touchdowns. Lee completed 12 of 19 passes for 210 yards and three touchdowns with Elliot catching four of for 126 yards and all three scores.
The Apaches got on the board first, 7-0, when Lee found a wide-open Elliot over the middle of the field for a 32-yard touchdown pass with 5:11 to play in the first quarter.
Burbank tied the score three plays later when Williams snapped off a 63-yard touchdown run. The sophomore running back put the Bulldogs ahead, 14-7, with 8:46 left in the first half when he shook several would-be tacklers for an 18-yard score.
Williams' second score was set up by Burbank's defense, as Arcadia was held to no yards on a drive that started at its own 9, which forced a punt out of its own end zone and gave the Bulldogs possession 35 yards out from another score.
Williams tallied his final touchdown with 2:38 left in the opening half to increase the lead to 21-7. Arcadia kept the game close and went into halftime with some momentum when Lee hit Elliot with a 28-yard touchdown pass to bring the score to 21-14 just 54 seconds later.
Whatever positive impact the late score had for Arcadia was quickly erased in a second half that belonged to Burbank. The Bulldogs launched a hurry-up offense to start the third quarter and marched the ball 69 yards down the field on 12 plays, as Arlington capped a drive the lasted 5:13 with a three-yard touchdown run for a 27-14 lead after a missed extra point.
The Apaches responded with a nice drive of their own, taking the ball into the red zone on six plays. But it came to a screeching halt when Burbank's Joseph Argenziano picked off Lee at the Bulldogs 5-yard line.
“They couldn't run the ball on us so they tried to go to their passing game, but it was too late and we were getting so much pressure on the quarterback,” said Kim of Burbank's success on defense.
Burbank scored on two of its final three full-length drives, one on a three-yard quarterback sneak from sophomore Ryan Meredith (12 for 18 passing for 81 yards) and the other on a two-yard run from Joseph Pendleton (58 rushing yards on 14 carries) to end a stellar night on both sides of the ball.
Arcadia scored its final touchdown late, as Lee connected with Elliot for a 35-yard touchdown score with 56 seconds left in the game.