HomeBlocksFront-GridBulldogs, Bears Gear Up With High Expectations

Bulldogs, Bears Gear Up With High Expectations

It is time to return to the field for another football season at Burbank and Burroughs High. The Bulldogs want to get back to where they once were, while the Bears will be trying out some new things.


The focus for the Bulldogs this season is clear-cut: a return to the postseason.

“Our goal, first and foremost, is to get back to the playoffs,” Burbank coach Adam Colman said. “Post-COVID we have had a little drought here, and I think we were [in the playoffs] 10 of the 11 years before that, so now we are finally getting the program up and running to where we expect to be. That is the goal, we’ve got to get back to the playoffs.”

This campaign, the core values, set with input from the players, form the acronym DAWGS, standing for discipline, accountability, work ethic, grit and service. The players will be wearing wristbands with DAWGS on them throughout the season to keep those values at the forefront of what the Bulldogs are doing.

Colman sees a group stacked with playmakers across the board and looks for the Bulldogs to press the action.

“They try to create big plays,” Colman said. “It’s kind of a mentality we’ve been instilling throughout the year. We’re willing to take a risk here and there to create that big play. We’re not trying to be passive. We are trying to be aggressive on both sides of the ball.

“On offense we want to take our shots when they are there. Defensively, we don’t want to just try to limit the other team or hold them up, we are trying to attack the offense and create the mistakes on their end and get the ball back for our offense.”

Bulldogs junior Daniel Zacariaz, who had some varsity playing time last season, will be at quarterback for the Bulldogs.

“As hard as he has worked to get better throwing the ball and making his reads and all that, we’ve had a ton of conversations about leadership, about what it takes and about how much of being a quarterback is the intangibles,” Colman said.

Burbank junior Sebastian Mirzakanian will also be looked to as a team leader.

“He was a starting offensive lineman for us last year, so he is kind of the leader of the O-line, I would say,” Colman said. “Having that varsity experience as a young guy goes a long way.”

Highlighting the receiving corps will be junior Ezekiel Alvarez.

“We’ve had a quite a few good receivers over the last decade and I think he is the next in line.”

Additionally, juniors Joseph Caballero and Jacob Mendieta will be key at running back.

Look for senior linebacker Marcus Ojeil, who joined the program last year and earned a starting role halfway through the season, to be a leader on the defensive side of things.

“[He’s] another kid that isn’t used to being a leader, so it is learning along the way, but on the field, he is making sure everyone is in the right position,” said Colman of Ojeil. “He’s communicating every play — before the snap, during the snap, after the snap. So, he’s really become the leader of the defense on the back end.”

Levon Bakmazian will anchor the defense up front. Colman added “he will probably be the heart and soul of the D-line.”

Bulldogs junior Jake Rogerson will be playing a leadership role in the secondary that is “full of ballhawks.”

The season began on the road against Dos Pueblos on Friday, an opponent the Bulldogs narrowly lost to last season. The home opener against Castaic on Sept. 1 will be special as the Bulldogs will play on campus as part of celebration of the school’s 115th anniversary. Pacific League play starts Sept. 29 at Arcadia and the season ends, of course, with the Big Game against Burroughs.

“We want to control what we can control,” Colman said. “Start out with getting back to the playoffs, hopefully compete for a league title, and then let the chips fall where they may once we get to the playoffs.”


Burroughs senior Ethan Hubbell will be part of the veteran Bears team as the group looks to build on last season’s playoff run. – Photo by Sebastian Moore / Burbank Leader

There is change in the air for Burroughs High on the football field for the upcoming season.

“We’ve made some significant changes on both sides of the ball in terms of scheme and certain things we’re doing, so there has been a steep learning curve,” Burroughs coach Jesse Craven said. “But we’ve seen a lot of growth and that is the main goal right now.”

A notable change will be that the Bears have a new offensive coordinator in Joe Maiale, and he will be taking over the play-calling duties from Craven. The Bears have also changed defensive coordinators, welcoming Ron Jones, formally at Pasadena High School, to the role.

Despite the changes, the central goal for the upcoming season is a familiar one the Bears look to fulfill each campaign.

“The goal is to find out what the maximum potential of this team is and wherever that takes us is wherever that takes us, but the goal is to get to that point,” said Craven, whose program has 112 players across all levels. “We want to maximize the potential of each player and help them accomplish their goals individually and then collectively, hopefully, in turn maximize potential of the whole team each year.”

The captains this year will be Ethan Hubbell, Ryan Hernandez, Jake Scozzola, Santiago Sanchez, Brody Beebe and Alex Valenzuela.

“These guys, since they have been in the program, show up every day, show up to workouts, they really set the example of what we want our players to be in terms of their work ethic and commitment to their improvement as an individual, then also what they do to help the guys around them,” Craven said.

Seniors Hubbell and Hernandez have been “staples for us the last two years” and, along with Beebe, have played at the varsity level since they were freshmen. Scozzola arrived last season as a transfer and “had an immediate impact,” culminating in being an All-Pacific League team selection. Sanchez and Valenzuela “have exponentially stood out in terms of their work ethic and preparation for this year and their growth overall.”

Returning for his senior year will be quarterback Chris Kulikov, an All-League and All-CIF honoree.

“He is an absolute gamer,” Craven said of his signal-caller. “When the lights are on he is at his best. When the moments are big, he rises up. He can make every throw on the field and he can run as well.”

Craven also thinks that Noah Frenkel will be “an explosive player for us this year.” Also key will be Damien Gomez, who returns at right tackle. Reese Shuton will be counted on at nose tackle. Colin Jimenez will join him on the defensive line and also play center. Burroughs junior Patrick Lima will be tasked with playing receiver as well as defensive back.

“He is a young, but explosive player,” Craven said. “He ended up playing a lot for us last year at the varsity level and had a lot of big plays in big games. We’re expecting the same this year.”

New faces on varsity include sophomore Matteo Tarca, who Craven is “hoping could be a good player for us.”

The season kicked off against Harvard-Westlake of Studio City on Friday. After two road contests, the Bears return to host North Hollywood Sept. 8. Before the 7 p.m. kick-off, will be a ceremony at 5:45 p.m. to honor the life of former receiver and Burroughs Hall of Fame member Kyle Cremarosa, who passed away July 4 following a long battle with a rare bone cancer. Pacific League starts Sept. 29 with a home game against Pasadena.

“There are no easy weeks across the board.”

First published in the August 19 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

Most Popular

[bsa_pro_ad_space id=3]