The Bulldogs and Indians will get a chance to put that approach to the test when the two meet at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Memorial Field in the 61st meeting of the historic cross-town rivalry.
The game will determine this year’s Pacific League champion, as the Indians (7-2, 6-0 in league) hold a one-game lead over the Bulldogs (7-2, 5-1). If Burbank wins the contest, the rivals will share the league crown.
Along with coaching in the cross-town bash, Knoop and Valencia also know what it’s like to play in the Big Game, as both are former players for Burbank High.
“We just want to approach this as the 10th game in the regular season,” said Knoop, a 1981 graduate. “We really don’t want the guys to get caught up in all the hoopla and all the stuff the city gets excited about. We just want to do what we always do and approach the game like we have the previous nine games.”
Valencia said once players let their emotions get the best of them, their play ultimately suffers.
“We definitely don’t want them to get to hyper for this one,” said Valencia, a 1993 graduate. “If you get too fired up you start doing things you don’t normally do, like on defense, you try to go for the big hit instead to tackling the right way. We have to play within ourselves.”
One of the biggest factors surrounding the game could be the status of Burroughs junior quarterback Lucas Yanez. Yanez injured his non-throwing shoulder last Friday in a league game against Crescenta Valley. He sought medical attention and his shoulder has been in a sling early this week.
Knoop said “it doesn’t look good” for his starting signal-caller to be healthy enough to play in his team’s most important game of the season.
“We’ll just have to wait and see,” said Knoop, who confirmed Yanez will see doctors this week to determine the extent of his injury.