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Tough league going for locals

Local water polo squads should get plenty of competition in Pacific League.

September 03, 2010|By Jeff Tully, jeff.tully@latimes.com

The local boys' water polo coaches at Burbank High and Burroughs know it's going to be tough going in the Pacific League this season.

Glendale returns most of its team from a year ago when the Nitros advanced to the CIF Southern Section VI semifinals.

Hoover, which made it to the division quarterfinals in 2009, will be paced by junior Hakop Kaplanya, who tallied 229 goals to set a new California record.

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In addition, Crescenta Valley has a strong water polo tradition and the Falcons seem to be able to reload with quality players every year.

"CV and Glendale are going to be really tough," Burbank Coach Carlos Pelayo said. "They have that club program that has really helped the teams get better the past few years. And Hoover has their top player back…so it's going to be tough."

Burroughs Coach Danny Garcia agrees.

"Glendale has most of their players back from a very good team," he said. "And with Hoover's top player and CV usually up there, it's going to be tough going in the league this year."

With those three teams, it doesn't leave much wiggle room for the Bulldogs and Indians when it comes to qualifying for the postseason.

With their share of returning players, the Bulldogs and Indians will likely be battling one another for the last playoff spot.

Here is a look at how the season is shaping up.

BURROUGHS

Garcia took over during the season in 2009, as the Indians struggled, going 1-5 in Pacific League play. The lone win was a 12-11 victory against cross-town rival Burbank in the regular-season finale.

"The team didn't get the experience playing [nonleague matches] last year," said Garcia, who inherited the limited schedule. "But this year we are going to have more competition. We are playing in tournaments and we are trying to build the program back up."

The building included taking part in 18 matches during the summer.

"We lost some players from last year, but I think we have a good group overall," said Garcia, a former player in the Burroughs program. "We have had a good turnout and the players have been really working hard to get ready for the season."

Garcia said he has liked what he's seen in sophomore driver Kevin Ueno and senior hole-set Martin Ortega-Jenisson,

Starting at the goalkeeper position is freshman Casey Ueno.

"Casey just plays so well for a freshman," Garcia said. "The kid has great instincts and he knows what he's doing in goal. He has impressed us with the way he has played."

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