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Burbank has title expectations

Bulldogs lose share of key players, but believe they have the talent to go against the best in league.

August 31, 2011|By Jeff Tully, jeff.tully@latimes.com

It was not too many years ago that the Burbank High football team struggled to make the postseason, and the Bulldogs were relegated to the doormat of the league.

But six seasons ago, Burbank was moved from the tough Foothill League to the much more manageable Pacific League, and in five years has not missed making the Southern Section playoffs.

The addition of Coach Hector Valencia three years has also paid dividends. In 2009, the Bulldogs shared the league championship with cross-town rival Burroughs, and last season the squad was in contention for a title going into the final game of the regular season.

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A former Burbank player, Valencia has a personal interest in seeing the program flourish. He has made it a point to build up the program and make sure the Bulldogs are competitive year in and year out.

Valencia said the Burbank program has evolved over the past few seasons, and there now exists an environment where the players expect to win and to be successful. That wasn't the case six years ago.

"We have built up a tradition here at Burbank High the last few years and the kids expect to win now," said Valencia, whose team opens the season at 7 p.m. Friday with a nonleague Zero Week game at Warren. "That is the kind of attitude they have right now, because they know that we have had success and we've won in the past.

"We just want to put ourselves in a position to succeed, and we've done that the last few seasons. We really feel positive at the direction the program is going right now."

Burbank (7-4, 5-2 in league) is coming off a 2010 season in which it placed third in the Pacific League, after falling to the Indians in the regular-season finale. The Bulldogs fell to Santa Fe, 28-14, in the first round of the Southeast Division playoffs.

Unfortunately for Burbank, it lost some key players to graduation, players who put up big numbers and set school records during their tenure.

Two of those players were linebacker Ryan Seidler and running back Ulisies Ochoa, who both earned All-CIF accolades. Ochoa, the program's all-time rushing leader, had 180 carries for 1,255 yards and had 18 touchdowns and Seidler led the league with 151 tackles and averaged nearly 14 a game.

The program also graduated quarterback Adam Colman, who completed 129 of 241 passes for 2,066 yards, 19 touchdowns and just four interceptions.

Valencia said he has some sophomores moving up to varsity from a Bulldogs' freshman team that went 10-0 and won a Pacific League championship last season.

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