By Josh Levine
While Mission High School tore up the Academic Athletic Association by going undefeated in league play in 2010, Burton High School was attempting to leave a mark of its own.
For the first time in school history, the Pumas were one win away from the playoffs. All that stood between them and a first-round matchup with Mission was the high-powered offense of Balboa.
Unfortunately, the dream came to a screeching halt.
Before the game, one of Burton’s starting defensive ends was suspended and the team’s star running back was ejected in the first offensive series. Linemen were seen arguing and shoving on the sideline late in the third quarter.
“At one point, it got so bad it became funny,” said Burton head coach Anthony Rollins. “I just wished I had a pause button and could go back and start it over. When I called in the team for the huddle after my linemen got to arguing, I yelled at them about their composure. That was one of the few times I had ever yelled at them; it’s not really my style.”
Rollins was named the AAA co-Coach of the Year last season and hopes his team can build off last year’s success in 2011.
“We set our school record for the most wins and came the closest we ever have been to the playoffs,” he said. “This just means we have to keep improving.”
Burton will have a big change this year at quarterback, as last season’s starter, Alex Moreno, will likely not be returning for his senior season because of family issues that forced him to move to Vallejo. There is a slim chance that he will return, but as of right now, Allan Abilar is the front-runner to be under center for the Pumas in the season opener against Hercules.
“When [Moreno] called and told me, I was in shock,” Rollins said. “My heart hurt and I asked him if there was anything I could do to keep him at Burton. He told me that this was out of his hands and he had no say in it.”
The trademark spin offense that Burton runs will not be affected, because Abilar runs track and is a very agile quarterback. Rollins also plans to roll out a new offense in the league opener at Galileo that he claims no one in the Bay Area has seen outside of his team.
Along with the the loss of Moreno, Burton might also lose starting running back Delron Marman, who is not currently with the team. Still, the Pumas have 13 returning seniors, and although the roster currently lists only 18 players, Rollins is optimistic about a great freshman class the school.
He plans to feed them, let them play the “Madden” video game and to talk sports with them. This has been a common routine for Rollins, who always wants his players to feel like they are at home in the program.
The game to watch this year will be Burton playing at home against Marshall on Oct. 29 in the Backyard Brawl. Both teams will have T-shirts made to support their school, and Rollins expects it to be the biggest event of the season for both schools.
Citing the fact that he works at Mission, Rollins also can’t wait to take a crack at Joe Albano and the Bears — and of course, Balboa.
“To be honest I can’t wait to play Balboa this year,” Abilar said. “Most of my friends go there and it was a really tough loss to swallow. We lost our heads, but we will be ready.”
2011 Schedule – AAA games in bold
Week 0: Sat. 9/3 – vs. Hercules, 2 p.m.
Week 1: Bye
Week 2: Sat. 9/17 – vs. De Anza (Richmond), 2 p.m.
Week 3: Sat. 9/24 – vs. Richmond, 2 p.m.
Week 4: Fri. 9/30 – @ Galileo, 3 p.m.
Week 5: Fri. 10/7 – vs. Lowell, 3 p.m.
Week 6: Fri. 10/14 – vs. Mission @ Kezar Stadium, 3 p.m.
Week 7: Sat. 10/22 – vs. Washington, 2 p.m.
Week 8: Sat. 10/29 – vs. Marshall, 2 p.m.
Week 9: Sat. 11/5 – @ Balboa, 2 p.m.
Week 10: Fri. 11/11 – vs. Lincoln, 2 p.m.
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