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Burroughs, Burbank Put Out of Misery

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The fight that stopped the season-ending football game between Burbank and Burroughs highs on Thursday night wasn’t much.

At least not enough to suspend the contest with 3 minutes 21 seconds left in the fourth quarter of a 21-0 victory by Burroughs.

But suspended it was, in a fitting end to a stormy season for both teams, which finish with losing records and uncertain futures.

“Nothing really happened, just some jostling,” said referee Lee Smelser, who stopped the game. “One of the administrators said, ‘This thing should be over.’ I said, ‘You’re right, because it could escalate to something else.’

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“Up to that point, there were no problems. But I had no idea who the administrator was.”

Nobody does. Not Burbank Athletic Director Frank Kallem. Not Burroughs Coach Robert dos Remedios. Not Burbank Coach John Hazelton.

“I’ve seen way worse brawls in games that were finished,” said dos Remedios. “There was a Burbank kid on top of one of our kids. One of our linebackers knocked the Burbank kid off ours and they started wrestling in the dirt. Then it was grab, grab, grab by the other players.”

Said Hazelton: “Everybody rushed to make sure nothing happened.”

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But perhaps it was an appropriate time to end a season in which Burroughs finished 4-5-1 and Burbank 1-9, the Bulldogs’ lone victory by forfeit over Crescenta Valley in the third week of the season.

Kallem said he supported Smelser’s decision.

“It was pretty rough-and-tumble down there,” he said. “The game needed to be called. Absolutely 100%. There is no doubt about it. It was the right decision.”

But Kallem on Friday had few details about the fight, which was originally described as a bench-clearing brawl. And he doesn’t plan to take disciplinary action.

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“The football season is over,” Kallem said. “I didn’t see how the incident started.”

In addition to the losses, the teams have been plagued by controversy.

Hazelton is under investigation for using ineligible players. The probe was sparked by dos Remedios, who told Southern Section officials that Burbank School Board President Joe Hooven and Burbank junior varsity coach Doc Johns tried to recruit lineman Ken Wilson one day after he quit the Burroughs team.

Wilson concurrently charged dos Remedios with being abusive to his players.

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Wilson later rejoined the Indians and worked out his differences with dos Remedios.

Kallem attributed Thursday’s fight not to any bad blood between the teams--or between the coaches. He said it was just another chapter in the 46-year city rivalry.

“Emotions run high in that game,” he said. “But it’s always unfortunate when [an investigation] happens. I like Robert dos Remedios. And I wish we could have handled it in-house.”

Hazelton agreed.

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“Burbank’s political climate with the adults is what fosters bad blood,” Hazelton said. “The kids have nothing to do with the garbage the Burroughs people are charging me with.

“I had made up my mind, that with 10 seconds to go, I was going to call time out and send my kids across the field to shake hands with Burroughs, the kids who they went to elementary school with.”

The game may have been the last in Burbank for Hazelton and dos Remedios.

Dos Remedios, a second-year coach who previously coached five seasons at Glendale College, has been offered the position of offensive coordinator at Citrus College.

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“Obviously, it’s an option for me,” he said. “I miss [the junior college] level. But I need to sit back and think about it longer before I make a decision.

“If I leave, it’s got nothing to do with my kids, the administration or Joe Hooven. I think all of that stuff is over. It’s my program now. But I have to see if I’m 100% whole-hearted in this.”

There is talk that Hazelton will not return to Burbank. Counting the Crescenta Valley forfeit as an on-field loss, Burbank has a 3-17 record in his two seasons.

“I haven’t resigned and I haven’t been fired,” Hazelton said, “and I’m loyal to those kids who fought their way through a miserable season. I’m going to meet with administrators next week and tell them my job’s not done.”

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