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Relishing in their success

Jeff Tully

With his right knee heavily taped and leaning on crutches, injured

Burbank High running back Tanner Bennett could only watch as the

seconds ticked off the scoreboard Friday night at the 55th annual

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football rivalry game against Burroughs.

As the final seconds faded to black, Bennett -- a sophomore --

lifted one crutch, smiled and gave a loud cheer in acknowledgment of

the Bulldogs’ 24-17 cross-town win at Memorial Field.

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The win was Burbank’s first against its rival since 1992, when the

Bulldogs prevailed, 21-17.

“If I can’t be in there, at least we won. That’s all that

mattered,” Bennett said.

Bennett was knocked out of action in the first quarter of the

Foothill League game with the Indians, and was unable to return.

Despite not being a factor in the game, Bennett was still able to

relish in the moment of victory.

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“I was 6 years old the last time Burbank beat Burroughs,” he said.

“I don’t think Burroughs expected what we were bringing tonight. I

think a lot of people have underestimated us this season.”

Many teams probably underestimated the Bulldogs (6-4) this season,

after going 2-8 last year.

The architect of this turnaround project is second-year Coach Greg

Sobiech. Sobiech has not only brought discipline and pride to the

program, but he also has his players believing in what he and his

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coaches are trying to teach.

“When we started this season, we were really trying to get the

kids to buy into what we were trying to accomplish,” Sobiech said.

“And I think they have, and that is why we have been so successful.

“I’m telling you, this has been an absolutely amazing journey. I

don’t want this season to end with these kids. They have earned all

of this.”

Not only have the Bulldog players bought into what Sobiech and his

coaches have tried to give them, but the Bulldogs have a tremendous

amount of respect for their coach.

“I give Coach Sobiech all the credit for where we are now,” said

sophomore running back Jason McNeil said. “The coaches have taught us

so much, and I am so grateful to them.”

Said senior lineman Albert Trillo: “The coaching staff has really

gotten ready for the games we have played. The coaches are really

great.”

Behind junior quarterback Mike McDonald, the Bulldogs were able to

pull out the win and defeat the Indians for the first time in their

past 11 tries.

With an at-large berth in the CIF Southern Section Division II

playoffs almost assured, the Bulldogs will be making their first

appearance in the postseason since 1991.

In 1991, Burbank had a 6-5 record and the Bulldogs lost to host

Los Alamitos, 31-0, in the first round of the playoffs.

“This is the most amazing feeling, to beat Burroughs, and to win

like this,” junior wide receiver Jesse Ayers said.

“This is something we have been talking about and dreaming about

for a long time. I can’t tell how good this feels right now.”

A taste of the playoffs is an appropriate reward for a Burbank

team that has surprised many and impressed even more with its

success.

Burbank definitely deserves it.


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