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Indians, Bulldogs are in

Jeff Tully

When football teams play in the Foothill League, they can expect

tough competition.

Because the league is so full of talented teams, squads can also

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usually expect their share of respect when it comes CIF Southern

Section playoff selection time.

Burbank and Burroughs highs were the recipients of some of that

respect Sunday when the Division II pairings were released. Despite

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finishing fourth and fifth in league, respectfully, the Bulldogs and

Indians received at-large berths for the playoffs.

While the Indians have had success in recent years advancing to

the playoffs, it is the Bulldogs’ first trip since 1991, when they

lost to Los Alamitos, 31-0.

Burbank (6-4) will travel to host Chino at 7:30 p.m. Friday for

its first-round game.

The Cowboys (7-3) finished second in the Sierra League behind La

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Verne Damien.

Burroughs (4-6) finds itself in a unique situation. The Indians

will host No. 1-seeded Mission Viejo at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at

Memorial Field.

Although the Diablos (10-0) are the South Coast League champion,

they have been forced to play all of their playoff games on the road

this season after the program was sanctioned by the CIF when it was

discovered the team doctored footballs in the postseason last year.

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Mission Viejo defeated Hart -- of the Foothill League -- 10-6, to

win the 2002 championship

“The fact that five of the six teams in our [league] made it to

the playoffs, that says a great deal about the amount of talent and

the strength of this [league],” said Burbank Coach Greg Sobiech, who

is in his second season.

“Being in the playoffs is more than just playing for our school

and our city. We want to represent the league and make a good

showing.”

Burroughs Coach Keith Knoop, in his seventh year, said playing

talented teams in league should prepare his squad for the intense

playoff competition.

“There is no doubt there is some very good football being played

in the Foothill League,” Knoop said.

“We have a very good football team and we lost four times in

league. So that tells you a lot about the league.”

The Indians will be taking on a Mission Viejo team that limits its

opponents to just 11.4 points a game. The team is led by quarterback

Mark Sanchez, who has completed 96 of 129 passes for 1,615 yards, 20

touchdowns and two interceptions.

“Mission Viejo is like a pro team out there,” Knoop said. “They

are powerful and they have just destroyed some very good teams.

“With most teams, you can tell when they put their second-string

into a game, but with them, you can’t even tell. The second string is

just as good as the first.”

Knoop said a big task for him this week is making sure his players

are not intimidated by the Diablos’ mystique.

“I just hope my kids show up,” Knoop said jokingly. “They better

show up, or they’ll be in trouble with me.”

The Indians will be without starting quarterback Nick Payne, who

broke a finger on his non-throwing hand in a league game against

Canyon on Nov. 7.

Burbank will be taking on Chino without its leading rusher, after

sophomore running back Tanner Bennett suffered an injury to his right

knee Friday against Burroughs.

Burbank receivers Jesse Ayers and Robert Nichols have ankle

injures from Friday’s game.

Even the Bulldogs’ starting quarterback -- junior Mike McDonald --

is hobbled, suffering from a bruised quadriceps muscle.

The Cowboys’ biggest weapon is running back Shawn Oatis, who has

carried 159 yards for 775 yards and six touchdowns.

“We know Chino is going to be tough, they are going to be big and

they like to run the ball,” Sobiech said. “But we have done pretty

well this year against the run.

“We are looking forward to playing, and being in the playoffs for

the first time in a while.

“The kids deserve this for the season that they have had.”

The Bulldogs are fresh off a 24-18 league win against Burroughs,

its first over their rival since 1992.


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