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Mutual rivalry respect

Although they are adversaries, local football coaches get along, and actually like one another

November 09, 2010|By Jeff Tully, jeff.tully@latimes.com
(File photo )

The football coaches at Burbank High and Burroughs don't always get along.

In fact, in the more than six decades the area programs have been taken part in the rivalry, there has been some coaches who would have preferred to partake in their own rivalry against the opposition's leader behind Memorial Field.

"When the coaches get along, I think that takes some of the pressure off the rivalry, in terms of pumping up the big game," Burroughs Coach Keith Knoop said. "Whereas in the past, I'm not too sure each of the head coaches liked each other. That added a little oomph to it. Sometimes you wanted to win just to stuff it in the other guy's face."

None of that kind of bad blood will occur at this year's Big Game, as the Bulldogs and Indians will meet for their 63rd installment of the rivalry at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Memorial Field. Knoop, along with his Burbank counterpart, Hector Valencia, actually like one another, and the two are friends.

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"We just met for breakfast on Saturday to exchange tapes and to talk football," Valencia said.

Knoop and Valencia are actually both Burbank High alumni, with the Burroughs coach graduating in 1981 and the Bulldogs coach graduating in 1993.

Both have a great deal of respect for one another, and realize that they are both in the same fight to elevate the play of high school football in the city. As a result, both donate their time with the Burbank Vikings Youth Tackle Football program.

"In fact, both coaches are on our board of directors," said Craig Hunter, the president of the Vikings. "Whenever I ask them to do something, they are all over it and they are always willing to help. They are really helpful to the program."

Knoop and Valencia appear to have a lot in common, and they take similar approaches to coaching. In addition, the coaches have a mutual respect for one another, and each realizes the other will have his squad prepared for Thursday's game.

But don't be fooled; Knoop and Valencia want to beat the other in the Big Game.

"I have nothing but respect for Keith and what he's done over the years at Burroughs," Valencia said. "We have a good relationship and we can talk about things. But when it comes down to it, we want to win the game and we're going into the game focused on taking it."

With Knoop being a Burbank graduate, some might think that he still bleeds a little Bulldog blue. However, although he admits he has fond memories of his alma mater, he had become a proud Indian.

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