Burbank High football smashes through Mayfair, first round

BURBANK — At times appearing utterly unstoppable, the Burbank High football team paved its way to the program’s first postseason victory since 2009 on the back of a high-flying offense.

The host Bulldogs totaled 630 yards of offense, 34 first downs and seven touchdown in stampeding visiting Mayfair, 49-14, in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Southeast Division playoffs at Memorial Field on Friday evening.

With the victory, Burbank, the city’s lone playoff survivor, earned a date into the second round versus upstart Del Rio League third-place finisher Santa Fe at Pioneer High in Whittier on Nov. 22.

The Chiefs (7-4) pulled off arguably the most shocking win of the divisional first round, upsetting second-seeded Diamond Ranch, 31-28, on Friday.

“To be honest, we had a great week of practice and we’re peaking at the right time,” said Burbank Coach Hector Valencia, whose record improved to 2-3 in postseason play and whose team moved past first-round exits in 2012 and 2010. “We came with a lot of blitzes from so many different angles and used our speed to take advantage on defense.

“On offense, we executed and our tempo really bothered them. They couldn’t get set.”

Burbank (9-2) all but iced the game at halftime as the Bulldogs led, 42-6.

Maybe no player made a bigger impact than senior wide receiver Oharjee Brown.

On the same day Brown’s former school was eliminated in the postseason, 55-7, the Burroughs transfer hauled in eight receptions for 158 yards and three touchdowns, while also recovering a fumble in the end zone for another score.

“[Quarterback] Ryan Meredith did a great job of getting me the ball and the line was great out there. This was a team win,” Brown said. “I trust Ryan and he got me the ball.”

All of Brown’s scores came on sizable gains, including a 30-yard crossing route score the senior caught from Meredith (14 for 23 for 233 yards and three touchdowns) with 9:03 remaining in the second quarter, which put the Bulldogs ahead, 21-0.

Meredith and Brown also hooked up on a 39-yard touchdown with 40.1 seconds remaining in taking a 42-6 advantage before the half.

Previously, both hand their hands on another score when Meredith scrambled for a 19-yard gain and was about to score when the quarterback was hit from behind and fumbled into the end zone.

Fortunately for Burbank, Brown was blocking to the right of Meredith and scooped the ball in the end zone for a touchdown with 8:10 left in the first half.

“You look at Ryan and Oharjee and they had a great game,” Valencia said. “But, really the entire team just did great.”

Finally, Meredith lobbed a 14-yard touchdown pass to Brown at the 9:18 mark in the third for the Bulldogs’ lone score of the second half.

Even with the aerial display, Burbank took control of the contest early thanks to its ground attack in the first half.

The Bulldogs racked up 25 first downs in the first half in comparison to four for the Suburban League runner-up Monsoons (5-6).

On the first two drives alone, possessions that Burbank started at its 1- and 2-yard lines, respectively, the Bulldogs totaled 15 first downs in holding the ball for 6:30. Burbank punched in two-yard touchdown runs each from James Williams (13 carries for 133 yards and one touchdown along with three receptions for 34 yards) and Joseph Pendleton (13 carries for 62 yards) in taking a 14-0 advantage after the first quarter.

Mayfair also hurt its cause with an ineffective special teams, which missed a 37-yard field and fumbled a kickoff that led to an eventual Burbank touchdown.

Even when the Monsoons scored their lone touchdown of the first half on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Isaiah Jackson (eight for 23 for 122 yards and two touchdowns) to Evan Ponce with 5:29 remaining in the second, the Bulldogs responded by blocking the extra point.

Directly after the missed attempt, Burbank junior Tony Toledo returned the ensuing kickoff 98 yards to the Monsoons’ 1. Toledo punched in the score on the next play.

“We just kept the tempo up and they couldn’t really keep up,” said Toledo, who rushed 15 times for 105 yards and one score. “We just preached that we came this far. We’re the underdogs in everyone’s eyes and we wanted to make a statement.”

Burbank’s defensive effort can’t be overlooked as well as the Bulldogs recorded three sacks and limited Mayfair to eight total first downs and 40 yards rushing on 20 carries.

With a first-round obstacle out of the way, Valencia is looking forward to the chance at exorcising one more demon, namely a 28-14 playoff defeat to Santa Fe three years ago.

“It seems like every time we’re in the playoffs, Santa Fe is right around the corner,” Valencia said. “It feels good to get past the first round and who knows? If we play like this, we’re a tough team to stop.”

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