Ever since Grant switched to the Delta Valley Conference in 2009 Burbank has owned football in the Metro Conference. Laguna Creek High School, new to the Metro, discovered this truth Friday night.
The Titans rudely said “Welcome to the Metro” handing the Cardinals their first-ever conference loss, 41-0, at Titan Stadium.
Last week Laguna Creek won its conference opener by squeaking by Valley, 23-20. That was also the Cardinals’ first win of the 2014 season. They are now 1-4 overall.
Any kind of momentum Laguna Creek gained in the Valley win came to an abrupt halt very fast in the loss. Burbank (2-3 overall, 2-0 Metro) scored on its first three possessions, pounding big holes in the Cardinal defense thanks to a big offensive line. Speedy runners Michael Roots, Eric Brown and Harrison Anderson were quickly into the secondary, gaining yardage in big chunks.
And, to top it off, after the first three TD’s Burbank converted each two-point conversion using a spread-the-field formation which head coach John Heffernan calls “The Gate” where three players line up on the left sideline, three others on the right sideline and the other five are bunched in the middle of the field.
Friday Night Scores
Grant 26, Elk Grove 19
Jesuit 47, Davis 14
Monterey Trail 49, Pleasant Grove 21
Franklin 56, Sheldon 3
Cosumnes Oaks 35, Roseville 14
Sacramento 45, Florin 0
Valley 22, Kennedy 18
Bradshaw Christian 28, Vacaville Christian 0
“We ran it last year, but this year we modified it a little bit,” Heffernan said. “We just spread the field and try to take advantage of our athletes.”
Anderson, from the quarterback position, threw for one extra-pointer to Sinilau Kolokihakaufisi and the other two times virtually walked into the end zone from shotgun formation while the Cardinal defense looked dumbfounded.
Seven minutes into the second quarter Burbank led 24-0. The Titans used 11, eight and 16 offensive plays on three consecutive scoring drives. Laguna Creek had no first downs and had run just eight plays on offense.
“We were able to run downhill on those guys,” Heffernan explained. “The off-tackle play really got us going early.”
After injuring his knee two weeks ago, Anderson was back in the lineup for Burbank and Heffernan was glad.
“The option hits a little faster with Harrison in there,” Heffernan said. “He’s making the reads quicker. It’s good to have him back.”
After the game, a visibly-heated Dave Morton knew his Cardinals have a ways to go – even in a new conference - to be competitive.
“It comes from a lack of experience, the lack of winning,” Morton said. “When you’ve been getting your ass kicked your whole life, it’s tough all of a sudden to turn it around.”
Morton said he’ll accept some of the blame for the Cardinals’ lackluster performance on Friday.
“Preparation is the name of the game,” he said. “If you don’t practice hard, you end up not playing hard. We’ve got guys who are out of practice, stand to the side, don’t stand up and get the job done. That’s my fault.”
He also admitted Burbank is the team that has set the standard for success in the Metro.
“Physical … and fast,” Morton muttered.
To add insult to injury, when the Cardinals did finally force Burbank into a punt late in the second quarter, they fumbled the ball on the return at the Titan 44. Anderson hit Brown on a 30-yard pass play to the Laguna Creek 24 and with 4.4 seconds remaining in the first half, freshman Manuel Heredia trotted out and booted a 41-yard field goal to give Burbank a 27-0 halftime advantage.
“As long as I’ve been here we’ve never kicked a field goal,” Heffernan said. “That was the highlight of my night.”
The Cardinals did toughen the defense a bit in a scoreless third quarter, yet the offense continued to struggle. Laguna Creek had but two first downs heading into the final stanza.
“Defensively we started to play but we gave up early scores because we are late starters,” Morton said. “But, offensively we are terrible.”
Laguna Creek had just 88 yards rushing and 114 yards passing.
When the Cardinals did knock on the door early in the fourth quarter, quarterback Stephen Marin was picked off by Shaun Franklin at the Titan 15-yardline.
Laguna Creek recovered a fumbled snap from center on the next play. However, Marin was once again intercepted by Franklin on a pass to the end zone to squelch any chance of scoring Friday night by the Cardinals.
Burbank sealed the game with a pair of big plays – a 58-yard sprint by Anderson and a 46-yarder by Keshaun Ates - early in the fourth quarter.
“I think we’re finally playing well,” Ates said.
Morton hurried his squad onto the team bus afterwards.
“We’ll talk when we get back to our locker room. I wanted them to go thank their family for coming and supporting us tonight,” he said. “When we return I will tell them I am proud of some of their efforts. We have a monkey on our backs we’ve got to get rid of.”
This Saturday the Cardinals will take on the Metro’s other football power, Sacramento, a 1:15 p.m. kickoff in Oak Park.
“I will do my best to see that we will be respectable,” Morton added. “Right now we are letting our community down.”
The Titans will play at Cosumnes River College this weekend against Valley. Heffernan’s team is looking to even its overall record at 3-3 against the Vikings after losing its three non-conference games to area powers Grant, Oak Ridge and Folsom.
“It helped us understand how to play the game fast,” Heffernan said. “Against those three opponents if you don’t play the game fast and are decisive in what you are doing, then they are going to blow you out. So, tonight our kids played fast and (Laguna Creek) had a hard time catching up to us.”