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Finally, a Big Game with it all

JEFF TULLY

It has been rare in recent years that the annual Burbank-Burroughs

rivalry football game actually has had playoff implications.

But when the teams met Friday for the 55th annual installment of

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the cross-town Big Game, uncharacteristically, the game was played

with more than just city bragging rights at stake.

An inspired Burbank team came out and defeated the Indians for the

first time in 11 years, 24-18.

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As it turned out, the game did have playoff implications. However,

it wasn’t the usual scenario of the winning team getting a postseason

berth and the loser staying home.

In a testament to the talent of both programs this season, the

Indians and Bulldogs received at-large invitations to the Division II

shindig.

Burroughs will host No. 1-seeded Mission Viejo and Burbank will

travel to Chino on Friday for opening-round games. Both contests are

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at 7:30 p.m.

This year’s Big Game was one of the most thrilling and successful

contests in the event’s more than five decades. Not only was the

contest well attended -- with attendance estimated at more than 9,000

-- but it was a treat for the fans as well.

Some of the more interesting events of the game, and the entire

evening, deserve a closer look.

* In an sign of things to come, the lead-in for the varsity game

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was even more exciting than the main event.

In the junior-varsity game, Burbank won, 13-10, on a 36-yard field

goal by Bulldog Saul Sanchez with no time remaining.

* The varsity game began on a bizarre note, as Burroughs Coach

Keith Knoop pulled off a little trickery with the Indians’ first

series from scrimmage.

It was a shock to see No. 78 -- 6-foot-2, 285-pound lineman Fernel

Vasquez -- line up under center to play quarterback for the Indians’

first down from scrimmage.

Vasquez took the ball and lumbered -- and I mean lumbered -- to

his right for what appeared to be a sweep. He only got a few yards

until he was ganged up on by Bulldog defenders.

“That was a pass play, and Fernel was supposed to pass the ball,”

Knoop said. “But I guess he didn’t understand the difference between

a pass and a run.”

* Even before the game began, fans packed into Memorial Field for

one of the biggest turnouts in years. Many in attendance were pleased

and surprised at the amount of interest the game generated.

“This is the way the game used to me, and the way I remember it,

from years past,” said Helen Quayle, Burbank vice principal of

activities and athletics.

“The turnout is great. We have had to turn away hundreds of fans

who we just didn’t have room for. There were fans lined four deep

outside trying to get in.”

* One of the fans who didn’t want to get in was former Burbank

mayor David Laurell.

Laurell lives across the street from Memorial Field and usually

has a good view of the action. However, with banners lining the fence

around the field, the former mayor wasn’t able to get an unobstructed

view.

One of the Burroughs administrators said Laurell asked if some of

the banners could be taken down so he could enjoy the game from his

front yard.

His request was denied.

All Laurell had to do to take in the action was pay his $6 -- just

like the regular folks.

* It was nice to see the Burbank fans have something to cheer

about, after routinely being beaten by its rival.

The Bulldog faithful were cheering throughout the game, and many

stood up for extended periods of time during Burbank’s game-winning

drive late in the fourth quarter.

And the fans were rewarded with a thrilling finish.

With both teams moving in the right direction with winning

programs, the rivalry should only get better in coming years.

* JEFF TULLY is the sports editor of the Burbank Leader. He can be

reached at 637-3245, or by e-mail at jeff.tully@latimes.com.


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