DOWNEY — There were plenty of questions surrounding the Burbank High football team heading into Friday’s season-opening game.
With a new quarterback, a new defensive scheme and coordinator and a variety of starting players getting their first chance to shine, the Bulldogs went into their nonleague Zero Week contest against host Warren looking for some answers.
If the Bulldogs were able to come away with anything from Friday’s game it was that they are resilient, as they overcame their share of mistakes to notch a 10-3 victory.
Both teams contributed to a game that was rife with penalties, miscues, fumbles and missed opportunities.
“Being the first game of the year, obviously you are going to have your share of mistakes,” said Burbank Coach Hector Valencia, whose team beat the Bears last season as well, 41-39. “Having a team with a lot of young guys, sometimes it just takes some time to get in sync.”
The Bulldogs and Bears played a first half that saw the squads combine for more than 100 yards in penalties. The teams also combined for four turnovers.
“We are just happy that we were able to come out on top,” Valencia said. “We came out with a lot of passion and the guys really hung in there.”
The Burbank defense came up big numerous times, keeping Warren out of the end zone. The only points the Bears could muster were a 37-yard field goal by Thomas Briseno in the first half, which gave the visitors a 3-0 lead.
Burbank was able to take the lead in the second quarter by scoring the lone touchdown of the game. Herman Castro punched it in from three yards out with 7:15 left in the first half to give the Bulldogs the advantage.
The touchdown was set up by a nifty 53-yard run by quarterback Zak Tomlinson. The signal-caller went to his left on a naked bootleg, catching the Warren defense off-guard. He motored around the end and was finally brought down at the four-yard line.
“Our defense is still learning, so they’re going to get better,” said Valencia, whose team went 7-4 in 2010. “Early they were able to advance the ball on us, but once our defense kicked in we really shut them down.”
The Bulldogs added to their lead when David Hacobian made good on a 38-yard field goal with 4:43 left.
With the Bulldogs clinging to a seven-point lead, the Bears had the ball on their own 17 with 4:46 remaining. Warren was able to advance the ball to the Burbank 28-yard line with 29.8 seconds left. On a fourth-and-18 play, quarterback Robert Quinones lofted a pass toward the end zone. However, the attempt went off the fingertips of Henry Gonzalez at the five-yard line.
“This is a game that we can definitely build on,” Valencia said. “Especially with the line that we have that is very young. This was a true test for us and we knew how important it was to start off the season with a win.
"[Warren] was a lot bigger than us and they were very physical. But our guys were able to execute a little more than they were and that’s what made the difference.”
The game was the first in a series of 10 regular season contests that Burbank will be forced play on the road this season. With renovation ongoing at the Bulldogs’ home stadium, Memorial Field, the squad will have to get used to a steady diet of away games.
The Bulldogs continue their road show with a game next Friday against West Ranch of the Foothill League at Valencia High.