Burbank looks for balance with schedule in preparation for league play

BURBANK — When putting together the nonleague schedule for the 2013 football season, Burbank High Coach Hector Valencia had a few things in mind.

Along with scheduling competition that would pose some challenges for his Bulldogs, Valencia also didn't want to schedule teams that would beat up on his squad and leave his players dejected.

Because when it comes down to it, Valencia stressed, the nonleague campaign is intended to get Burbank ready for the Pacific League.

"That's what's most important; getting ready for league play," Valencia said. "We want to play some good teams in our preseason and that way we can see what we have to do once league rolls around. It's all about getting us ready for league."

Burbank was more than competitive in the Pacific League in 2012, finishing second behind champion Muir. Burbank went 7-4, 6-1 in league, and fell in the first round of the playoffs to a tough Norwalk squad, 49-14.

"We did lose some key guys from last year, but we are hoping to fill those holes and get other guys ready," Valencia said.

Burbank will open the campaign Sept. 6 with a nonleague home game against Bell Gardens at Memorial Field. The opener should pose a definite challenge for the Bulldogs, as Bell Gardens went 8-3 last season and won the Almont League championship.

What will follow will be a nonleague contest against host Canoga Park on Sept. 13. The Hunters (9-5 last season) placed forth in the L.A. City's Valley Mission League in 2012.

The final nonleague game will be at home Sept. 20 against Inglewood at Memorial Field. Last season, the Sentinels (7-4) finished second in the Ocean League.

"The funny thing this year is that we'll play a lot of teams with new coaches," Valencia said. "So when a program has a new coach, you never know how much they're going to change things. They could run different things than they did last season.

"When we get a little more information, as the season gets closer, and we find out more about the coaches and what they run, then we'll have a good idea of what we're going to need to do."

Valencia estimates that Burbank will play five to six teams that have new coaches this season, including Pacific League foes Arcadia, Pasadena and Hoover.

Valencia said he is looking forward to the contest against Inglewood. Last season, Burbank fell to the Sentinels, 21-14, in overtime on the road.

"Inglewood did lose some talent from last year, but they seem to be rebuilding," Valencia said. "They were very solid on the lower levels last season so I look for those guys to come up and help them out."

The nonleague schedule will lead into the Pacific League campaign, as Burbank opens Sept. 27 at Arcadia (4-7).

Following their opener, the Bulldogs will host Pasadena (1-9) on Oct. 3, will play Crescenta Valley (5-5) on Oct. 11 at Moyse Field, host Muir on Oct. 18, host Glendale (3-7) on Oct. 2, travel to face Hoover (3-7) on Oct. 31 and take on Burroughs (4-6) in the annual "Big Game" on Nov. 8 at Memorial Field.

As far as evaluating the Pacific League competition, Valencia said he has seen or kept up with some of the teams in passing leagues and tournaments.

"Muir is always going to be good and you always have to look out for them," Valencia said. "But we know that some of the other teams are going to have their share of talent, so we're going to have to be ready."

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