Locals gain experience in tourney

Erik Boal

It might have only been the first day of a demanding passing-league

schedule for the Burbank High football team, but it was apparent

Saturday that Greg Sobiech's level of expectation for his squad is

higher than ever.

That's why even after winning four of seven games in the second

annual Crescenta Valley Passing Classic at the Glendale Sports

Complex, the third-year coach didn't mince words when addressing his

players following their 24-18 loss to North Hollywood in the opening

round of the single-elimination playoffs.

"I saw plenty of football that I liked, and plenty I didn't like,"

said Sobiech, whose squad, along with Burroughs, competed in the

21-team tournament, which was played on 40-yard fields, with

touchdowns worth six points and interceptions two.

"We had a breakout year last year, but [6-5] isn't going to cut it

this year. The expectations are going to be much higher, and we just

have to stay together as a group."

However, Sobiech's biggest source of frustration stemmed from

Burbank doing exactly the opposite at times, which helped North

Hollywood rally from a 12-6 deficit to advance.

"I'm not going to have that type of individual play, and I just

won't have any in-fighting," said Sobiech, whose squad defeated

tournament-finalist Bell, Dana Point Dana Hills, Artesia and Granada

Hills in pool play.

"We did some nice things, but we also did some things that I

won't stand for as a coach.

"I know it's a learning process, but the only thing I think that

stops us is ourselves."

After rallying to post a 14-12 win against Granada Hills, Burbank

appeared to be in position to continue its run against North

Hollywood, as quarterback Mike McDonald completed nine of 17 passes,

including two touchdowns to Jesse Ayers and one to Jason McNeil.

But after squandering the lead, the Bulldogs' last-ditch effort to

force a tie came up short, as McDonald -- who threw 19 touchdowns

versus two interceptions on the day -- had his pass to Ayers broken

up in the end zone as time expired.

As for Burroughs Coach Keith Knoop -- whose squad went 0-4-2 -- he

didn't put as much stock in Saturday's results, because he realizes

it's going to be a long summer, with three more tournaments to be


"Realistically, this is a tune-up for the Hart Tournament [Friday

and Saturday]," said Knoop, whose squad tied Moorpark and Pomona, and

lost to Van Nuys Birmingham, Chatsworth, Hemet and North Hollywood.

"Our goal was to try to get the first-, second- and third-string

kids in key situations, and I'd rather give up a loss now, so we can

evaluate a kid for later on down the line."

One of the aspects of the seven-on-seven format that didn't favor

Burroughs was the absence of its imposing offensive line.

"That's why they call it 'skeleton football,'" said Knoop, who was

impressed with Tony Banuelos, Robert Burgfeld, Juan Cuevas and Jake

Ferrer on offense, and Josh Balderas, Gary Cole and Ryan Felix on


"It's like having the potatoes without the meat."

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