Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times | Terms of Service | Privacy Policy
Advertisement
Share
News

The chain gang

Jeff Tully

With a combined 90 years of experience with the Burbank-Burroughs

rivalry football contest, they have been on the sidelines for

hundreds of Big Games.

Advertisement

Four individuals have maintained strong ties to the rivalry, as

well as stayed close to the action, although they have never put on a

Bulldog or Indian uniform as a player, or guided the teams as a

coach.

Advertisement

The quartet of Burdette Houser, Richard Jones, Dennis Roy and

Scott Biederman have had front-row views of the rivalry over the

years as members of the chain gang, a group which helps spot the

ball, as well as measure and keep track of the first downs.

The group will be at Memorial Field at 7:30 p.m. Friday to work

the 55th annual game.

“We have been all working together for so long, we kind of operate

like a well-oiled machine,” said Houser, the crew chief, who has the

Advertisement

longest tenure of the group with 32 years. “We know what to expect

from one another, and we really don’t have to think about it.”

Houser, 57, who graduated from Burbank High in 1966, is the one who recruits new members to the chain gang. He said there is nothing

like being close to the action on the sideline during games.

“It is definitely the best seat in the house, you can bet on

that,” said Hauser, who works for Target. “We get to see it all, and

a lot of the times, we have to hear it all from the coaches.”

Along with having to stay alert during games for possible flying

Advertisement

bodies and players tackled out of bounds, the crew also has to deal

with coaches standing in their way and must be ready to take up and

run at a moment’s notice to move the chains.

And then there’s the weather.

Working their share of games Friday and Saturday nights, the men

have had to endure rain, wind and cold weather through the years.

“That stuff is all just part of the job,” said Biederman, 42, a

1979 Burbank graduate who works as an independent painting

contractor. “We know what is required of us, and we just go out there

and do it.

“I really look forward to working the games. It is something I

really like to do.”

For Jones, who has been a member of the crew for 26 years, he did

take two years off from his duties.

“That’s when I got married, and I didn’t do the games,” he said.

Jones, 47, a 1975 Burbank graduate who works for Kennedy’s Surf

Shop, said there is a definite difference between the rivalry games

and other games.

“There is just so much more excitement for the Burbank and

Burroughs games,” he said. “There are always big crowds, and there

are always a lot of people on the sidelines.”

The only member of the crew who didn’t go to school locally is

Roy, 56, who graduated from Glendale High in 1965. However, he has

made his home in Burbank for 26 years.

Working the sidelines for 16 years, Roy -- a cooperate security

specialist for Federal Express and a former Glendale Police officer

-- said one particular game sticks out in his mind as one of the most

exciting he has seen.

“It was the 1992 game, the last time Burbank defeated Burroughs,”

said Roy, about the 21-17 Bulldog triumph. “I remember in the last

few minutes, [quarterback] Brian Casey threw a touchdown to Kendricks

Lewis to win the game for Burbank. That was a great game.

“You can always expect an exciting game every year when Burbank

plays Burroughs.”

With all the things they have had to endure, all the members of

the crew agree they get a great deal of satisfaction from working the

games.

“For me, it’s a form of community service,” Roy said. “It is my

way of giving a little something back.”

Along with the exciting moments, the crew also has experienced

some less-than-favorable games through the years.

One of those games was the 1995 contest, when the event was halted

with 3:21 left in the fourth quarter after the teams’ players became

involved in a bench-clearing brawl.

Burroughs won the game, 21-0.

“I remember that game, and it was pretty bad,” Biederman said.

“The two teams were fighting and they had to stop the whole thing.

“But most of the games are pretty good ones, and that’s what we’re

expecting on Friday.”


Advertisement