CANOGA PARK — For many of the members of the Burbank High football team, they are not accustomed to playing games on natural grass fields.
While most venues in the region now have field turf, including Memorial Field, the Bulldogs found themselves in the unusual position of having to compete on a grass field Friday night.
Burbank made the necessary adjustments and had a seamless transition, as it scored eight rushing touchdowns en route to a convincing 65-7 intersectional road win against Canoga Park.
“It’s just something you have to be able to go out there and deal with every once in a while,” said Burbank Coach Hector Valencia, whose team improved to 2-0. “It’s the only time we will probably play on a grass field this year, so you really can’t complain.
“We had the players come on to the field before the game and do a walk around and then had them work on their cutting. We didn’t know that we’d score eight touchdowns rushing.”
Burbank led throughout, getting a team-high three touchdowns from senior fullback Joseph Pendleton and two apiece from junior running backs James Williams and Tony Toledo to turn back the Hunters (1-1). Senior running back Jonathan Afzali added a rushing touchdown for Burbank, which got a 68-yard punt return for a touchdown from Williams.
The Bulldogs forced four turnovers, getting one interception each from Martin Caro and Kalani Williams and a fumble recovery apiece by Oharjee Brown and Andrew Bogenschutz.
Caro’s interception helped set the tone early for the Bulldogs. He intercepted a pass by Canoga Park quarterback Anthony Huichan on the first possession of the contest at Canoga Park 45-yard line. Three plays later, Burbank took a 7-0 lead on a 25-yard touchdown run by Toledo with 9:42 to play in the first quarter.
Pendleton made it 14-0 on Burbank’s second possession when he scored on a 25-yard run with 6:54 left in the opening quarter.
Pendleton said he was eager to see how he would be able to perform on the grass.
“There were some parts of the field that had sand and others that had some mud,” said Pendleton, who finished with 70 yards rushing in eight carries. “We had to get used to it quickly.
“I wanted to come out and help us get some points early. We wanted to get off to that good start. It’s something when the team scores eight touchdowns.”
Williams scored on a six-yard run with 8:29 remaining in the second quarter to extend the Bulldogs’ advantage to 21-0. Williams finished the contest with 106 yards rushing in five carries.
The Hunters trimmed the deficit to 21-7 on a 30-yard run by running back Darius Jones with 5:26 left in the first half. Jones finished with 117 yards rushing in 25 carries for the Hunters.
Burbank responded on its next possession when Pendleton scored on a six-yard run to give the Bulldogs a 28-7 lead 3:03 left in the second quarter.
A 36-yard field goal by Henry Avetisyan gave Burbank a 31-7 lead with 44.6 seconds to play in the first half. The Bulldogs scored on all five of their first-half possessions.
“We think that we have a very good offense,” Valencia said. “We can use our speed to get open and we know how to find the holes when rushing.
“We have a lot of different options and that’s something we want to use to our advantage. [Pendleton] runs hard. He’s not fancy. He runs with power, and he’s the fastest guy on the team.”
Williams made it 37-7 on a nine-yard run with 7:03 left in the third quarter. A 10-yard run by Pendleton gave the Bulldogs a 44-7 cushion with 6:12 remaining in the third quarter and a 35-yard touchdown run by Toledo extended the lead to 51-7 with 2:53 to play in the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, Williams scored on a 68-yard punt return to raise Burbank’s advantage to 58-7 before Afzali closed out the scoring with an 18-yard run.
Burbank will conclude the nonleague portion of its schedule with a home game against Inglewood at 7 p.m. Friday at Memorial Field.