The Burroughs High boys’ water polo team has promised a trip to the playoffs.
Burbank, the Indians’ crosstown rival, has guaranteed a disciplined and strengthened program.
The Indians and Bulldogs are full of optimism heading into the season, with Burroughs eyeing a postseason berth for the first time in eight years and Burbank refueling under first-year Coach Kristina Garcia.
Burroughs Coach Danny Garcia — no relation to his Burbank counterpart — provided his thoughts about the fate of both programs.
“This season it’s going to be Glendale, Burbank and us [for the top three spots in the Pacific League],” Danny Garcia said. “We’re looking pretty good.”
Here is a closer look at how the teams are shaping up.
The Indians field an experienced squad that is ready to erase the memories of a forgettable 2011 season and create an unforgettable year.
The Indians posted a 13-14 (0-6 in league) campaign last year, but they mentioned that they’ve grown since 2011 and are “itching to play a game,” according to their coach.
“I think we’re going to go to the playoffs,” Garcia said. “Eight years is a long time. We have a lot of returners. They have the experience and they have the knowledge. They’re hungry. This is the team that wants to break the mold and get into the playoffs.”
For Burroughs’ seniors, this is the year that they say is their perfect opportunity to reach the postseason.
“We’re stronger and smarter,” Burroughs senior Danny Mairena said.
Teammate Casey Ueno, a junior, agreed.
“We have strong players this year,” said Ueno, a utility player who will also be joined by his brother, Kevin, on the squad, which also features junior driver Oscar Hernandez and senior driver Max Young. “We have to put our hope in this year.”
Burbank has put its hopes on the guidance of Kristina Garcia, who assisted Danny Garcia on the Burroughs squad a year ago.
Burbank was 15-4, (2-4 in league) last year and missed out on the playoffs, despite starting the year 12-0. The perfect run ended when Coach Adam Wright left the program just prior to league to take an administration job at a different school.
The Bulldogs’ season ended earlier than they thought it would.
Kristina Garcia, a former water polo player at Cal State Northridge, has stepped in to create structure and organization at Burbank.
Coaches came in and out and that created chaos [at Burbank],” she said. “Now, it’s taught me how to create structure again, and how to figure everything out.
“I have a lot of support from parents, and these kids want that structure. They’re disciplined. They’re happy.”
Zachary Card, a senior utility player, and Derek Baer, a junior goalkeeper, said they’re happy to have a disciplined coach.
“What went wrong last year is we didn’t have the discipline,” Card said. “We could’ve done something with last year’s team.”
Added Baer: “There’s more structure this year than last year. There are longer and harder practices. There’s less leeway to mess around.”
Garcia said Card and Baer — in addition to freshman talent Arthur Mheryan — are players who have individual talent.
“Now it’s a matter of creating that strong team,” she said.
She’ll have a strong team that will hopefully compete with Burroughs and the rest of the league for a playoff berth.