BURBANK — Both the Burbank High and Burroughs football coaches agree that a key to success in the CIF Southern Section playoffs is execution.
“We have to execute if we are going to be successful in the playoffs,” said Bulldogs’ Coach Hector Valencia, who is in his second season. “It’s all about execution. We just have to go out and execute our game plan.”
Said Burroughs Coach Keith Knoop: “Everything in the playoffs has to do with execution. Everybody is 0-0 coming into the playoffs, and if you go 0-1, you’re done.”
The Indians are fresh off a 38-35 win against Burbank in the annual Big Game rivalry clash. The win gave the program a share of the Pacific League championship with Arcadia. It was Burroughs’ second straight title and third in five seasons.
Burroughs (6-4), which has won six of its last seven games, is the No. 1 seed from the Pacific League. It will take on El Rancho in a first-round Southeast Division game at 7 p.m. Friday at Memorial Field. The Dons (6-4) placed fourth in the Del Rio League.
Burbank (7-3 and third place from the Pacific League) will travel to take on Santa Fe in a first-round Southeast Division contest at 7:30 p.m. at Pioneer High. The Chiefs (6-4) finished second in the Del Rio League behind champion La Serna.
The Indians are trying to win their first postseason game in 23 years. The last playoff win was in 1987, when Burroughs made it to the Northwestern Division championship game, losing to Arroyo Grande, 15-10.
Knoop said he expects a physical game against El Rancho, a team that likes to run the ball.
“They don’t pass the ball a lot and they run the heck out of the ball,” said Knoop, who has been with the Burroughs football program for 18 years. “They are physical and they have some big kids and they will try and stuff the ball down your throat.”
The rivalry win last week was punctuated by an outstanding final scoring drive by senior quarterback Lucas Yanez. Yanez has been a dual-threat for the Indians all season. Yanez is not only a threat to do damage through the air, but can also be dangerous carrying the ball.
Yanez has a distinction no other Burroughs player in the history of the program can claim. With his play this season, he has moved into the top 10 on the Indians’ all-time rushing list. Along with his top-10 all-time passing ranking, Yanez has accomplished a truly unique double.
This season, Yanez has completed 111 of 181 passes for 1,607 yards, 13 touchdowns and nine interceptions. On the ground, he has 80 carries for 474 yards and seven touchdowns.
The Indians also have a solid pair of running backs in senior Tadeo Zuniga (148 carries, 1,058 yards and 11 touchdowns) and junior Zander Anding (57 carries, 575 yards and nine touchdowns). Anding also has 30 catches for 313 yards and two touchdowns.
El Rancho likes to run the ball behind Ronell Lone (72 carries, 526 yards and two touchdowns), Andrew Romero (six touchdowns) and Daniel Moriel (five touchdowns).
Knoop said after winning a share of the league title last week, the last thing he wants is his team thinking about its past accomplishments.
“We have to put that title behind us, and we just can’t be thinking about that,” he said. “El Rancho really doesn’t give a crap what we did last Thursday night.”
The Dons have lost three of their last five games.
Burbank has received a fine effort this season from its senior signal-caller, Adam Colman. Colman was completed 113 of 214 passes for 1,795 yards, 18 touchdowns and just four interceptions. The Bulldogs also have an outstanding player in senior running back Ulisies Ochoa, who has 165 carries for 1,198 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Santa Fe has solid players in running back in Alex Mirola (107 carries, 724 yards and nine touchdowns) and quarterback Justin Rincon (69 of 133 for 699 yards, six touchdowns and seven interceptions).
“They like to play old-school football, smashmouth football,” Valencia said of Santa Fe. “They have some very good athletes. But really their key is their defense. That is their strength. They like to fly to the ball.”
The Chiefs give up just 15 points a game.
Burbank will be looking for its second upset of a Santa Fe team in three years. In 2008, under former Coach Ted Amarosi, the Bulldogs defeated the host — and No. 2-seeded — Chiefs, 20-14.