And get dirty they did, through blocks, dives and slips in the slick grass as the teachers and students fought hard against each other.
The teachers, consecutive 11-year winners of the Muir Bowl, had a reputation to uphold on Thursday afternoon. The students, fresh-faced and clad in their green physical-education uniforms, had something to prove.
"We just want to prove them wrong because they are always making fun of us that we lose every year," Dema Bitar, 12, of Burbank said.
There is no monetary reward for the winners of the Muir Bowl. The prize is pride, Muir Middle Principal Daniel Hacking said.
And bragging rights — trash-talking centered around the Muir Bowl is a year-round occurrence at the middle school, he said.
But this year the students had a plan to take down their reigning rivals by taking advantage of the age difference between the two teams.
"Our strategy is to run around them," Mackey Smith, 14, of Burbank said as he stood on the sidelines taking a break from the play. "Tire them out; do short passes."
The plan paid off. With 20 minutes left in the half-hour game, the students were up by two touchdowns, with the teachers holding a big goose egg.
The atmosphere around the sidelines was saturated with boos and hisses for the teachers as the whole school watched when they made their first touchdown late in the game.
Faculty and students alike had gone flying into the crowd during play, and teacher Ted DeVirgilis took a nasty spill in the mud, missing a key catch, in a move that Hacking and Burbank High School Principal Bruce Osgood would later call the turning point of the game.
"Oh!" Peter Petrousian, 12, of Burbank, said as he watched the tumble. "He got owned!"
When the bell for dismissal, and end of the game, finally rang, the crowd erupted into a roar of cheers. For the first time in Muir Bowl history, the faculty lost and the students tasted victory.