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.
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
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
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
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
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
“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.”