By Bonta Hill
Over the last five seasons, football at Burton High School has been more gloomy than the current summer here in San Francisco.
But with first-year co-head coaches Anthony Rollins and Kevin Grayson, that gloomy cloud that has hovered over the program could be a thing of the past.
Rollins, who spent the last five years as the junior varsity coach, has worked hard to instill confidence into the program.
“We have to start with the pride the kids have in the school and the program,” Rollins said. “Getting the kids out here working hard. That’s what’s going to lead to improving the morale of the team.”
Burton finished 2-8 overall and 1-5 in the AAA last season and the Pumas are looking to shed the losing stigma that’s hovered over the program that has only nine wins in the last five years.
Rollins and Grayson got offered the head coaching job in late May and both immediately called a meeting to get everyone involved in the program on the same page.
“I was excited to get the opportunity to come on board to build Burton up,” said Grayson who has also coached at Hercules High School, as well as Lincoln in the 1990s. “The first meeting we had 30 kids and some nice looking athletes, so some of the things I heard before, apparently is not all true.”
“We let the kids know immediately what we expected out of them; weights and the summer program,” Rollins said. “We let the kids know, ‘Hey, we’re here to take care of business, change the culture and make this a winning program.’”
Burton has changed their offensive scheme as well, transitioning to the Wing-T offense, something the coaches believe will help utilize the team’s speed and athleticism.
“It’s real versatile. We can pass out of it and we have the players that can run it effectively,” Grayson said. “We’ve got size on the line, we’ve got speedy guys in the backfield and we have the intelligence to run it.”
Leading the charge at quarterback is junior Alex Moreno, who played in a similar system at Hercules as a freshman. Senior tight end Edgardo Palacios also looks to play a big role in bringing Burton some success this season.
Rollins will also look for lineman Patrick Lealaimatafao-Tagaloa and speedster Delron Morman to contribute considerably this season.
“We’ve been learning the new offense, the new blocking schemes, so were starting from the bottom up in terms of learning the offense,” said Palacios.
For the first time since Rollins has been on campus, Burton has had an offseason workout plan in place. This past summer included weightlifting three times a week, and a six-week camp that saw 30 students attend regularly.
“With the old coaches, nobody would come to the offseason workouts,” Palacios said. “This year, at least 25 people have been coming and we have started to bond and become a family.”
Having that stigma placed on the program is okay with Rollins and Grayson, as they hope to go into the season overlooked.
“We hope nobody bothers looking at our film and everybody looks right past us,” Rollins said. “We don’t need to wave a flag or be hyped up. We know what we have up here.
“Right now though, we’re focused on what we need to do here at Burton High, because we have bigger things to worry about than how the league perceives us.”
The clouds that have hovered over the football program look like they could soon be dissipating as the Pumas have started to form a confidence within.
“Everyday we are looking to get better,” said Grayson. “If we do that, I think we’ll be okay.”
2010 Schedule (AAA games in bold)
Fri. 9/3 @ Hercules, 7 p.m.
Fri. 9/10 @ Richmond, 7 p.m.
Fri. 9/17 @ De Anza (Richmond), 7 p.m.
Sat. 10/2 – vs. Galileo, 2:30 p.m.
Fri. 10/8 – vs. Mission, 3 p.m.
Sat. 10/16 – vs. Marshall @ SOTA, 2:30 p.m.
Sat. 10/23 – vs. Washington @ SOTA, 2:30 p.m.
Fri. 10/29 – @ Lincoln, 3 p.m.
Thurs. 11/4 – @ Lowell, 2 p.m.
Fri. 11/12 – vs. Balboa, 2 p.m.