It was a disappointing 2010 campaign for the two area boys’ water polo programs.
Burbank High was able to secure the fourth and final CIF Southern Section Division V playoff spot from the Pacific League, but fell in the wild-card round against La Salle, 10-6.
Burroughs wasn’t able to earn a postseason spot, as the Indians finished sixth in league.
The Indians did show promise late in the season, however, as they fell to the Bulldogs, 9-6, in the regular-season finale and almost defeated Arcadia, 8-7, in the consolation round of the Pacific League Tournament.
With their share of returning players, along with some new athletes who could make instant impacts, Burbank and Burroughs are hoping to bounce back this season.
Here is a look at how the teams are shaping up.
The Bulldogs have a new coach after the departure of Carlos Pelayo. Adam Wright, who headed the Burbank swimming program for a decade and who has overseen the aquatics programs at the school, takes over the helm.
“I have worked with some head water polo coaches here and I’ve been the [junior varsity] coach, but I don’t think I’ve ever been the head coach,” Wright said. “It’s kind of the first time that it’s all me. “But I am looking forward to it and the guys have been really great.”
Although he was only inserted as the program’s coach a few weeks ago, Wright said he likes what he sees with his squad.
“We have a lot of returning guys,” he said. “There are some little changes here and there, and that’s what kind of happens when a new coach comes in. But we have some guys who have the experience and they are looking good.
“We are getting a late start on things, but all the guys are working hard.”
Leading the group of returners is Sam Akopyan, a senior all-league standout who will be the team’s premier driver. Wright said they will rely on the left-hander a great deal this season to pace the offense.
Also returning are Kevin Miller, a senior hole-set, junior driver/defender Zach Card, Daniel Gonzalez, a junior hole-set, and sophomore goalkeeper Derek Baer.
Wright said he also expects sophomore Dante Nazarian, a transfer from Crescenta Valley, along with junior Sean Savoy, to also contribute.
“Because I’m new in the game, I really don’t know who are going to be the good teams in league this year,” Wright said. “I know Hoover has been tough the last couple of years, Glendale is tough and you can always expect CV to be right up there. We don’t take anyone lightly in league.”
Unlike Burbank, the Indians and Coach Danny Garcia have been in sync throughout the entire summer. Burroughs played its share of matches during the break, something that the coach hopes will pay dividends this season.
“We’ve been working really, really hard,” said Garcia, a former Burroughs standout player. “Over the summer, and over the past few weeks, we have really been working to get better. We hit the weight room really hard this summer. This year’s team actually looks a lot more promising than last year.
“We have a handful of returners, but we also have some new guys coming up, so that should be good. We have a lot bigger roster and a lot more players in our program.”
Two of the squad’s key returners are junior Kevin and sophomore Casey Ueno. While both are utility players, Casey played mainly in goal last season. However, this season he has been moved to the field.
Included in the change of positioning is junior Daniel Mairena, who has been moved to the starting goalkeeper spot.
“He is working out great in goal,” Garcia said of Mairena. “He’s [6 foot 1], he has great natural ability and he has great hand-eye coordination. He should do just fine in goal for us.”
Also returning for the Indians are senior two-meter Jon Marino and junior Ryan Martinsen, a left-hander who will be a driver.
Newcomers who Garcia will look upon to add to the team are sophomore driver Oscar Hernandez, junior driver Max Young and sophomore driver Daniel Silva. All three played on the junior-varsity level last season.
In the league race, Garcia expects nothing short of tough competition.
“Glendale is going to be strong,” he said. “CV is usually a given, although I know they graduated a hefty load. But I expect us to be competitive with those teams.”