Brace yourselves, John Hazelton could be coming to a high school
football field near you.
For those familiar with the infamous former Burbank High coach,
you can stop screaming and reaching for the Valium.
The good news is -- for the immediate future any way -- Hazelton
has not landed a coaching job in Burbank, or in the San Fernando
However, the coach with a checkered past has gotten a head
coaching job at a Southern California school. Hazelton was promoted
and now heads the program at Carpinteria High, a school in Ventura
So why should the hiring of a former local coach at a high school
a county away be of interest to people in Burbank?
The answer is simple: With Hazelton’s propensity to find his way
into the good graces of schools and football programs, there is a
good chance he will land at a nearby school, or one of his teams will
eventually play against one of the area’s squads.
Like Jason from the “Halloween” movies, or athlete’s foot, just
when you think you have Hazelton down for the count, he has
resurrected himself to infect another program.
Although it’s been eight years since Hazelton polluted the Burbank
program and played a part in one of the largest and most sordid
scandals to ever hit the area, many in the community still talk about
the horrible things the coach did to the people of the city.
In spring 1994, Hazelton descended on the Bulldog program. When he
departed in December 1995, the coach had managed to decimate a
school, ruin players’ high school careers and help make national
headlines as part of a sex scandal.
Those close to the Bulldog program should have known something was
amiss during Hazelton’s first season at the helm in 1994.
Maybe they should have gotten the hint after seeing a long line of
cars dropping players off in the school’s parking lot prior to
Maybe a red flag should have gone up after players who had gone by
a particular name during the preseason, magically were identified by
a different name in Burbank’s game program.
Maybe they should have taken notice a group of players listed the
same Providencia Avenue apartment building as their home address.
However, people either didn’t notice -- or looked the other way --
as Hazelton soiled the integrity of the Burbank program and carried
out his unique brand of mayhem.
In late 1995, a report commissioned by the Burbank Unified School
District and the CIF Southern Section brought to light some of the
violations Hazelton committed during his tenure. The 70-page report
took two months to complete and highlighted some serious rules
violations, which included:
* The Bulldog staff lured players to Burbank High for the sole
purpose of playing football.
* The staff also helped get athletes apartments in the city, and
some teen-agers lived there without adult supervision.
* The staff encouraged or assisted players in transferring to
Burbank High and other schools, using enticement of tutorial
The report also said then board President Joe Hooven “may have
exerted undue influence on a Burroughs High student ... to transfer
to Burbank High School.”
You would think with all of the rule-breaking and recruiting,
Hazelton would put together a winning program and lead the Bulldogs
to success. However, the contrary was true.
In his two seasons with the program, Hazelton’s teams went 4-16
and 0-8 in the Foothill League. In 1995, the Bulldogs were 1-9, with
their only victory coming from a forfeit against Crescenta Valley.
That doesn’t say much about Hazelton’s ability as a coach.
In a true testament to the type of teams Hazelton cultivated, his
final game with Burbank left a negative exclamation point on his
tenure of mischief. During the annual Burbank-Burroughs game, the
contest had to be halted with 3:21 left after Bulldog players got
into a brawl with their rivals.
As damaging as these infractions were, there was one incident that
overshadowed all of Hazelton’s bag of tricks.
In June 1996, Hazelton pleaded no contest in Burbank Municipal
Court to disturbing the peace in connection with an incident
involving one of his players.
Hazelton was originally charged with failing to report an alleged
sexual encounter between a 17-year-old Bulldog football player and
the 51-year-old president of a fund-raising organization for local
The player told police he allegedly had sexual intercourse with
the woman on the same night she allegedly told him she would provide
funding for the Burbank football team in exchange for sex.
Even before he came to Burbank there were questions about
Hazelton’s involvement in other CIF rules violations.
While at Van Nuys Montclair Prep in 1990, the Mounties were barred
from playoff competition by the CIF because of alleged rules
infractions. Montclair Prep was also expelled from the Alpha League
because of circumstances stemming from the same incident.
With all that controversy in his background, it is unbelievable
Hazelton would even be considered -- let alone hired -- as a head
coach anywhere. But I guess the good folks at Carpinteria saw past
all of the coach’s problems to allow him to head the program.
When Hazelton left the Burbank job in the wake of the recruiting
and sex scandals, there were those who said he would never get a
coaching job again. However, I told more than a few people that we
haven’t heard the last of the crafty coach.
After losing track of Hazelton for a few years, I first discovered
he was back in the football game a few years ago, serving as an
assistant for a high school in Santa Barbara.
He moved on to Carpinteria, where he served as an assistant coach.
Last season, the team won a CIF Southern Section Division XI
I wish the players and all involved with the Carpinteria program
the best of luck. I would just make darned sure every move that
Hazelton makes is scrutinized and looked over with a fine-tooth comb.
For their sake, maybe Hazelton has changed his ways and has set a
course for the straight and narrow. Maybe he has seen the evil of his
ways and now plays by the book
On the other hand, what is the old saying about a leopard ... ?
JEFF TULLY is the sports editor of the Burbank Leader. He can be
reached at 843-8700, or by e-mail at email@example.com