MEMORIAL FIELD — Being the oldest high school in the city, it was perhaps fitting that Burbank High got the opportunity to compete in the first varsity football game at the newly renovated Memorial Field.
The Bulldogs also got the chance to kick off the 2012 football season with a nonleague game Thursday night against visiting Chatsworth.
Fortunately for Burbank, it will always have the distinction of being the first to notch a victory at the venerable stadium.
The Bulldogs completely dominated the contest on both sides of the ball, hitting the Chancellors with a torrid running attack and stepping up on defense to limit Chatsworth to a lone field goal in the waning minutes. All of that led to an emphatic 39-3 win by Burbank.
Burbank Coach Hector Valencia said it was nice to return to Memorial Field after having to play all of his team’s games on the road last season while the venue was undergoing renovations.
“It’s nice to be back at home and play in front of our fans,” said Valencia, whose team went 4-6 last season. “After what we went through last year by playing on the road all the time it’s great to have our homefield back. It’s nice to get the win here, but I’ll take it wherever I can get it.”
While many might credit Thursday’s win to a Burbank offense that ran the ball through and by Chatsworth, it was the team’s defense that made a statement to start the season.
The Bulldogs defensive line continually put pressure on Chatsworth quarterback James Dorrado, who had to scramble on numerous occasions throughout the contest. The Burbank defense also clogged up the Chancellors’ running backs, as they struggled to get yardage.
The Burbank defense limited Chatsworth to negative yardage until less than six minutes remained in the first half when Dorado completed three consecutive passes for 58 yards.
Chatsworth couldn’t convert on its first four possessions of the game and had no first downs until the passing stint late in the second quarter. The Burbank defense limited Chatsworth to negative-33 yards total rushing in the first half.
Leading the defense was senior all-league nose guard Steven Kim, who had four quarterback sacks.
“I was just ready to go tonight,” said Kim, a three-year starter. “I couldn’t wait for this game to come and I was just really prepared to go out there and give my best for the team.”
The Burbank offense also served notice that it wants to be a force to be reckoned with.
The running attack was paced by sophomore James Williams. On the freshman level last season, Williams gained more than 2,000 years and led the Bulldogs to a Pacific League championship. Against Chatsworth, Williams carried the ball 12 times for 180 yards, scoring touchdowns on runs of 51 and 89 yards.
“I was thinking about this game all day and I was nervous,” Williams said. “But once I got into the game I felt a lot better. I felt pretty good out there tonight.”
Williams’ 51-yard scamper with 5:12 left in the first quarter was a gem. He took a handoff and ran around the right end. As he was hit by defenders, he spun, changed direction and headed down the far sideline. A pair of Chatsworth defenders grabbed a hold of him 20 yards from the goalline, but he got out of their grasp and motored into the end zone.
“We are definitely expecting big things from him,” Valencia said of Williams. “We see those moves in practice, but we didn’t expect to see them in a game so early in the season. He is honestly one of the hardest working guys in practice.”
The Bulldogs also received a solid performance from senior quarterback Zak Tomlinson. The signal-caller completed two passes, both of them going for touchdowns. He hooked up with Damien Lopez on a nine-yard touchdown strike with 11:54 remaining in the second quarter and hit Sebastian Santoro on a 79-yard score with 6:20 left in the game to put Burbank ahead, 39-0.
Running back Teddy Arlington also scored a touchdown on a four-yard run to begin the scoring with 7:45 left in the first quarter and again hit pay dirt on a 54-yard run in the second half to stake the Bulldogs to a 27-0 advantage.
Chatsworth finally scored on a 42-yard field goal by Jarred Garcia with 1:44 remaining.