The Burroughs High football program has developed quite a reputation for churning out quality offensive linemen.
Current Jacksonville Jaguars starting tackle Eben Brinton is a product of the Indians’ program.
The talented group of linemen have allowed a long list of Burroughs running backs to thrive. Last season, senior Dalton Williams earned All-CIF and All-Area accolades after carrying the ball 196 times for 1,529 yards (7.8 yards a carry) and 21 touchdowns. The yardage total put him fourth on the Indians’ all-time single-season rushing list. He was also named the Pacific League’s Offensive Player of the Year.
Williams joined an impressive list of players, which includes Thomas Kyle, Joe Wiggan and Dominique Barnes, who have had success on the ground for the Indians the past few years.
“Since we had our running backs coach Earl Hollingshed come over to us from Texas, he has been able to really turn our running game around,” said Burroughs Coach Keith Knoop, whose team shared the Pacific League title with Burbank last season. “He seems to really connect with the running backs, and he is able to get the most out of them.”
Getting the linemen prepared is coach Mike Reily, whom Knoop has called “the best O-line coach around.”
Attempting to follow in the footsteps of the successful running backs of the past is senior Tadeo Zuniga (5-feet-6, 172 pounds). With Williams carrying the majority of the load on the ground a year ago, Zuniga rushed for just 249 yards in 46 carries and had two touchdowns.
Despite his small contribution a year ago, Knoop said he expects Zuniga to step to the forefront this season.
“He is stronger and faster than he was last season,” Knoop said. “He is running around like a possessed human being. Last year he tried to do too much on his own when he got the ball. Now he knows how to use his offensive line to help him, and he knows where to go.”
Also seeing time at running back will be senior Casey Barbello (5-9, 193) and junior Zander Anding (6-0, 185).
Anchoring the offensive line will be returning senior all-league standout Steven Escoboza (6-1, 290), who will play left tackle. He will be joined by junior right tackle Raul Martinez (6-2, 244), senior left guard Garret Schiavello (5-9, 210), junior right guard Gus Ferrat (6-1, 220) and senior center Rokie Hussakhoon (5-9, 193).
“We do have some size on the O-line,” Knoop said.
Perhaps the key returner for the Indians is senior quarterback Lucas Yanez (5-9, 169). Yanez proved he is a double threat on offense in 2009, as he passed for 1,082 yards and rushed for 694.
Back for his third season as the Indians’ starter, the All-Area standout gets high marks from Knoop.
“He is looking fantastic,” Knoop said. “He has the experience and he knows our offense so well.”
Backing up Yanez will be junior Eli Peppmuller (5-11, 159), who helped lead the Burroughs junior varsity team to a Pacific League championship in 2009.
The quarterbacks will have a host of wide receivers to throw to, including seniors Matt Volland (5-8, 158), Zack Meijer (5-8, 185) and Anthony Carter (6-0, 194), senior tight end Nick Brown (6-0, 198) and junior Ike Nwachie (6-6, 223),
Another key wide returner, senior Tyler Yanez (6-1, 146), will be lost for the first few weeks of the season after injuring his ankle in volleyball over the summer. Knoop said he is hoping to have Yanez back when league competition begins Sept. 30.
On defense, Knoop said some of the offensive linemen will play both ways. They should be joined by senior Sonny Sandoval (5-9, 221) and junior transfer Nick Adonis (6-1, 275), who is waiting for his paperwork to be accepted. Junior Luke Coblentz (6-2, 183) should also contribute.
The defensive backs will be Volland, senior Bo Faunce (5-7, 155) and junior Danny Ayala (5-9, 164).
The linebacking duties will be led by retuning all-league player Tyler Tilton (6-1, 198), a senior. The other linebackers will be Meijer, Hussakhoon and Barbello.
Battling for the kicker spot are Brown and junior Christobal Escobar (5-7, 178) and vying for the punting duties are junior Marcos Ramirez (5-10, 169), senior Michael Mercado (6-0, 260).
The Indians open their season at 7:30 p.m. Friday in a nonleague Zero Week game against Saugus at College of the Canyons.
Last season, Burroughs (7-4) captured a share of its second league title in four years and fell in the first round of the playoffs to Diamond Ranch, 41-18.
Knoop said he thinks the road to a second straight league title won’t be easy.
“We met Muir a few times in passing league games during the summer,” he said. “The first two times it was close, but the last time they really gave it to us. Arcadia should also be tough.”