In Dave Carson’s 5 years as head coach at Burbank High he was unable to manage a win against Foothill League rival Hart.
Friday night at College of the Canyons, Carson lost another Burbank-Hart game. But this time, he was walking the Hart sideline.
An inspired Burbank team, playing emotionally against the coach who left them after last season, slugged out a 21-7 victory.
Erin Granata’s interception and 22-yard return for a touchdown iced a victory that represented a mild upset and, perhaps more significantly, marked Hart’s first league loss in 22 games.
“The players have been talking about Hart since summer,” Burbank Coach Randy Stage said. “They said they didn’t care if they lost every other game, they just wanted to beat Hart.”
Burbank’s win was a combined effort. Tarin Cardenaz ran 22 times for 157 yards and a touchdown and the Bulldog defense forced Rob Westervelt, the Valley area’s leading quarterback, to throw 4 interceptions.
“We knew what Carson’s offense was going to look like,” said Chad Peltier, who had one of those interceptions. “We knew what he would do and that helped.”
Burbank (6-2) and Hart (5-3) are both 2-1 in league play.
Stage probably could not have planned a better first quarter for his Bulldogs. The defense got things started as Peltier intercepted a Westervelt pass in the end zone and returned it to the 9.
From there, the Bulldogs embarked on a grinding journey. Cardenaz and Bill Charles took turns following an offensive line that repeatedly drove Hart’s defense backward. Then, quarterback Anthony Valento hit Edmundo Zepeda with a surprise pass over the middle for 28 yards.
Two plays later, Valento sneaked over from a yard out to give Burbank a 7-0 lead.
The Bulldogs had a chance to widen their lead when Cardenaz, doing double duty at cornerback, intercepted another Westervelt pass and ran it back 26 yards. Burbank drove inside Hart’s 10-yard line but Valento fumbled.
The Indians got back into the game 1:35 before halftime when Westervelt passed 16 yards to John DePaco for the tying score.
Burbank opened the second half with another long drive, moving 65 yards in 9 plays for a 13-7 lead.
After that, the game became a defensive struggle. Westervelt finished 13 of 30 for 131 yards, and Hart’s leading rusher, Howard Blackwell, ran 16 times for only 78 yards. Granata’s interception came late in the fourth quarter to close out the scoring.
“Four interceptions, one fumble . . . you can’t turn the ball over like that and win,” Carson said grimly. “They played well. We just didn’t.”