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Local rivalry heats up

Jeff Tully

The Burbank-Burroughs high school boys’ water polo rivalry took on a

renewed interest last season.

For more than a decade, it really wasn’t much of a rivalry. That’s

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because the Indians had beaten up on the cross-town Bulldogs, who

regularly struggled in nonleague and Almont League matches.

And when it came to the CIF Southern Section playoffs, Burroughs

was a perennial postseason participant, while Burbank never got a

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sniff of the playoffs.

However, all that changed in 2002.

In fact, the tables were completely turned with the local rivals.

Not only did the Bulldogs defeat the Indians for the first time in

11 years, Burbank also made its first Division III playoff appearance

in a decade.

Burbank secured its place in the postseason with an 11-6 victory

in November against Burroughs in the final league match of the

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season.

The switch of fate has not been lost on Burbank Coach Andre

Setaghian and Burroughs Coach David Cohen.

“My players are still bothered by the fact that we got swept by

[Burbank] last season,” Cohen said. “It still bothers them and they

have been thinking about it a lot.

“Although we want to play [well] against the other teams in the

league, we are really looking forward to playing Burbank and winning

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back the city championship.

Setaghian said his team will be ready for the challenge.

“In this league, the teams to beat are going to be Montebello and

Bell Gardens,” he said. “Those are going to be the teams with the

most talent.

“But we also want to do well against Burroughs. It’s important for

us to keep adding to what we were able to accomplish last season.”

With the locals set to begin play Thursday, here is a look at how

the season is shaping up:

BURBANK

The Bulldogs return a strong corps of players who helped the team

finish third in league and compile a 14-12 record in 2002.

Burbank also played well in the first round of the playoffs,

losing to Santa Monica, 10-8.

“A lot of these players have been with the program for a few

years,” Setaghian said. “They have the experience, and because of how

we did last season, they know what it’s like to win.”

Leading the Bulldog offense is senior 6-foot-2 hole/set Eric

Davis. Davis was the team’s best offensive weapon last season before

breaking his hand.

“Eric should be the best player in the league,” Setaghian said.

“He has gotten better and he is can score with both hands.”

Burbank also has fine scoring options with senior driver Edgar

Gasparyan and senior two-meter player Artashes Argaryan.

In goal, the team returns Nathaniel Taylor (6-3), an imposing

force in the cage.

Newcomers who the coach expects to make impacts are junior driver

Gil Vicente and junior utility/hole guard Ben Lees.

Setaghian said because of last season’s success, his program has

gone from 17 athletes last season to 30 this season. And with

Burbank’s on-campus pool set to open by the beginning of the 2004

season, the coach is expecting even more growth.

“I have tried to build the program since I’ve been here,” he said.

“With the success, we have the fire. And our new pool is going to be

the fuel for that fire.”

BURROUGHS

As Cohen knows, a good goalkeeper can go a long way in the success

of a team. The Indians could have the top player at that position in

senior Devin Hamilton -- who earned all-league honors last season.

“When Devin is finishes this season, he is going to own a lot of

our school records,” Cohen said. “He is that good.

“He has such great reach and he is able to get to a lot of balls.

I think he’s the best goalie we have in the league. I really haven’t

seen any better goalies in Southern California.”

The Indians should be in fine shape after spending the offseason

taking part in summer-league tournaments and matches.

“We are ready to get out there,” said Cohen, whose team was 5-14 a

year ago. “I am looking for us to do a lot better than we did last

season.”

Returners who should give the Indians some punch are junior driver

Rick Sobalvarro, sophomore driver Danny Garcia and sophomore driver

Scott Hamilton.

“We will be young, But I’m hoping we can make it to the playoffs,”

Cohen said. “We really want to return to CIF competition.”

Burroughs will open its season Thursday in the Chino Hills Ayala

Tournament.


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