"We really struggled last year and we killed ourselves with our discipline problems," Valencia said. "But we are a lot more unified this season and I don't expect us to have the kinds of problems we had last year. It's just going to be a much more pleasant experience coaching these kids this year."
Valencia is hoping the 2011 season was just an anomaly, as the Bulldogs placed third in league in 2010 and shared the league crown with rival Burroughs in 2009.
The Bulldogs will get a chance to get back on track when they open their season at 7 p.m. Thursday in a nonleague contest against visiting Chatsworth. The game will be the first varsity contest played at Memorial Field since the venue was refurbished.
Burbank will field a team with a contingent that has been with the program for a number of years.
"Last year, we had five guys who were four-year players, meaning they spent four years in the program on some level," Valencia said. "This year I think we have 17. We never get really big numbers for players on varsity. So, to have that many guys out of our seniors who have been with the program for four years…they know what to expect, they know our system and they have the experience. They know what they have to do.
"It's nice to have that many guys around that I have coached since they were freshmen."
On offense, Valencia is pleased with the group of running backs his team will feature this season. Those running backs will include junior Joseph Pendelton (5 feet 8, 205 pounds), sophomore James Williams (5-10, 180), junior Caro Martin (5-9, 190) and senior Teddy Arlington (5-8, 180), who earned all-league accolades last season.
Williams gained more than 2,000 yards on the Bulldogs' freshmen team in 2011.
Returning to take over the quarterbacking duties is senior Zak Tomlinson, who was the No. 2 signal-caller year ago, starting one game. Valencia said Tomlinson knows the offense and the coach is confident the senior will perform well.