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Football Preview: Burbank ready to make noise in league, and beyond

Burbank High football coach Adam Colman talks to the team at a recent preseason practice at Kemp-Kallem Field.
(Miguel Vasconcellos)

There has been a long tradition of outstanding and successful quarterbacks in the Burbank High football program.

Last season, signal-caller Matthew Porras put up big numbers for the Bulldogs. He learned under the wing of former quarterback Guy Gibbs, who led the program to a CIF Southern Section title contest in 2016.

Even Burbank coach Adam Colman, who is in his third season, was a quarterback for the Bulldogs.

Last season, with Porras executing the offense, Burbank went 7-4 and 6-1 in the Pacific League behind champion Arcadia. The Bulldogs fell to Glendora, 56-35, in the first round of the Division V playoffs.


The Bulldogs have moved down and will play in Division VII for the 2019 season.

Porras put up impressive numbers during his senior campaign. He completed 167 of 282 passes for 2,689 yards with 38 touchdown passes and 12 interceptions. Porras rushed for 492 yards in 121 carries and three touchdowns to finish with a school record 38 touchdowns.

The senior also set a number of records, including: a 61% completion percentage; career passing touchdowns with 6,378 all-purpose yards with 6,378; passing yards in a season; total points in a season; and the single-game touchdown record of seven against Burroughs.

Porras was named an All-Pacific League first-team selection.

Burbank High quarterback Aram Araradian throws the ball during practice Monday. (Photo by Miguel Vasconcellos)
(Miguel Vasconcellos/Burbank Leader)


“We have been very blessed and have had some very good kids who have come through the program and played quarterback for us,” said Colman, whose team will open the season at 7 p.m. Friday with a zero week nonleague contest against Moorpark at Memorial Field. “It’s a tradition that has built on itself.

“You have seen one guy helping the next guy and and taking pride in having their predecessor take over for them and wanting them to be better than they were. “

Taking over the starting quarterback position this season is junior Arman “Rambo” Araradian, who saw limited action last season as Porras’ backup.

"[Porras] and [Araradian] were really close the last couple of years and Matty tried to take him under his wing and help him grow and give him tips,” Colman said. “Ram really sought out opportunities to learn from him and his experiences

“You can’t ask for a harder worker than Ram. He lives and breathes football and he has worked a lot to be a better, more well-rounded player. No one is making him do it, he’s doing it himself. He just has a passion for football.”

Burbank High’s Isaac Glover catches a pass during Monday’s practice. (Photo by Miguel Vasconcellos)
(Miguel Vasconcellos/Burbank Leader)

Said Araradian: “We have been all working very hard as a team to get ready for the season. I think we should be ready and I like our chances.

“I know I definitely have some pretty big shoes to fill with Matty leaving. But I’m all about stepping up and competing and being the best I can be. But it’s not all about me. If we win, that’s all that counts, not what I might do myself. I don’t need to break any records; as long as the team wins I’ll be happy.”

Burbank did lose its share of impact players to graduation.

Burbank High’s Tyler Murphy runs a play on defense during Monday’s practice.. (Photo by Miguel Vasconcellos)
(Miguel Vasconcellos/Burbank Leader)

One of the team’s key all-league returners is senior defensive back Vincent Vang, who had ad 84 tackles and six interceptions last season.

Also returning is all-league senior running back Isaac Glover. In 2018, Glover contributed 497 rushing yards in 89 carries and seven touchdowns. He finished with eight total touchdowns.

“I was injured some of last year, so I’m really ready to go and ready to hit it hard this year,” Glover said. “I was complaining earlier when we didn’t have pads that I really wanted to get into pads and get it going. And now we’re into pads, I’m ready.

“For me, I’m just going to push hard for yards every time that I get the ball. It’s all about winning, and we all want to win. We’re not only looking for a league title, but a CIF title as well.”

Three other all-league players who are back are junior linebacker Max Mendieta, senior defensive back Ian Miller and senior wide receiver Ben Burnham. While Mendieta had 116 tackles and nine pass deflections, Miller contributed 55 tackles and Burnham caught 23 passes for 362 yards and three touchdowns.

Burbank High’s Tyler Murphy runs a drill during Monday’s practice. (Photo by Miguel Vasconcellos)
(Miguel Vasconcellos/Burbank Leader)

Returning from playing baseball is senior Oaklee Spens, who could see time at quarterback, along with junior Kuba Raymond.

Along with Glover at running back will be Mendieta and senior Tyler Murphy.

The slot receivers will be Vang and juniors Kaze Gibbs and Owen Cusumano. Also catching the ball will be junior Brandon Pena, Burnham, junior Jarren Flowers, senior KJ Boggs and Jack Zepeda


Manning the offensive line will be seniors Craig Rushton and Seth Jones, who are returners. They will be joined by senior Armando De La Cruz and juniors Danny Akopyan and Rene Amirian.

Most of the same players will also see time on the defensive line.

Joining Mendieta at linebacker will be junior Austin Blacano, Raymond, junior Lucas Sheppe, Murphy, a three-year starter, senior Davin Housholder and junior Lucas Ojeil.

In the defensive secondary to complement Vang and Miller will be Flowers, Spens, Cusumano, senior Shawn Wislon and Pena.

Doing the kicking will be Freddy Cardenas and Ruben Bagdasarian, and Cardenas or Spens will do the punting.

“I think we are all coming together as a team, especially the guys who were on JV and now on varsity, they’ve taken some big leaps from where they were last year,” Murphy said. “They should be key contributors to the team this year.

“We all have formed as one team and have kind of a brotherhood ... This is a really good group of guys.”

In the quest for the Pacific League championship, Colman said he expects a tough battle. With Arcadia finishing first and Burbank second a year ago, Crescenta Valley was the third-place league opponent.

Burbank High’s Jack Sapyta catches a pass during Monday’s practice. (Photo by Miguel Vasconcellos)
(Miguel Vasconcellos/Burbank Leader)

After Moorpark this week, the Bulldogs will be on the road for another three nonleague contests against Golden Valley, Orange Vista and Hart. Burbank opens league play at Arcadia on Sept. 20 and will take on cross-town rival Burbank on Nov. 1 at Memorial Field.

The Pacific League will have one less team this season after Hoover decided not to field a varsity squad for the next two years.

“I think this is going to be one of the better leagues seasons in awhile,” Colman said. “It seems like almost every team has improved from last year and there is a lot of talent in the league and a lot of good coaching.

“I could see the league breaking a lot of different ways. I don’t see a clear-cut favorite ... So across the league it should be very competitive.”

Burbank High’s Vincent Vang, runs a drill during practice Monday. (Photo by Miguel Vasconcellos)
(Miguel Vasconcellos/Burbank Leader)