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Burbank football squad taking 'baby steps' in spring workouts

Burbank working on things and trying to get over death of teammate in hopes of returning to the postseason.

June 05, 2012|By Edgar Melik-Stepanyan, Special to the Leader

For five years, it was used to playing in the postseason.

It even shared a Pacific League title during an impressive five-year run. Then, a disappointing 2011 season happened.

A 3-4 record in league relegated the Burbank High football team to a sixth-place finish, and an early exit to its season.

The Bulldogs started spring practice eager to get back to their winning ways, but also determined to have productive and structured sessions.

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"We tried to get our offense installed, and we did that very well," said Burbank Coach Hector Valencia, a former Bulldogs player.

Burbank will try to get back to the CIF Southern Section postseason with a host of new players, after graduating its lone first-team, all-league selection (running back Herman Castro), and two second-team honorees (offensive lineman Demitrios Korkis and linebacker Daniel Martinez).

The Bulldogs are taking a conservative approach in their attempt to build their offensive and defensive schemes.

"We take baby steps," Valencia said. "The talent that comes in, we can't do anything about. We can do something about executing our responsibilities.

"We don't have the entire playbook in there. We have very simple plays."

Valencia pointed to quarterback Zack Tomlinson and running backs James Williams and Joseph Pendleton as key figures in his offense.

They'll be protected by a young offensive line that Valencia expects "great things" from, as the Bulldogs will continue to run a no-huddle offense.

While they have prepared, Valencia also said reaching the playoffs in 2012 has not been discussed.

"It's not something we talk about, it's something we expect," he said. "We're out there hustling and trying to be our best. We know the playoffs are there for the taking.

"We have to execute at certain things at certain times of the year.

"Last year, we jumped the gun a bit. We're treating everything like it's a brand new team. Every single day has a structure. We're very structured for the summer. We're taking care of business now."

Part of taking care of business included having a team retreat near Fresno in May, when they spent three days developing commodore and unity and supporting one another just months after the death of a teammate.

Matthew Smyser died at his home in Shadow Hills on March 6 in what officials at the Los Angeles Country Coroner's Office ruled a suicide.

"There is a lot of respect for that kid," Valencia said. "They loved Matthew.

"The kids are doing well. Everyone heals at different speeds. We respect each other's space and we respect each other's needs."

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