By Austin Green
It was a taste of normalcy for the Burbank and Burbank teams, yet still abnormal in so many ways. They played under the Friday night lights, in the historic Rose Bowl no less. But the game was in March, well over a year since either of these teams last played competitively, and with no fans allowed and just two weeks of practice to prepare.
And in one of the most striking abnormalities of all when compared to recent history, it was Pasadena (1-0 record) which sprinted out to an early 20-0 lead and never looked back, snapping an eight-year losing streak to Burbank (0-1) by a final score of 42-26.
“We looked like a team that hasn’t played in a year and a half,” said Burbank head coach Adam Colman, whose last game was 16 months ago. “It took a while to get going to get their sea legs under them, get used to playing a live football game again. [Pasadena] looked like a team in midseason form. They came out firing, so hats off to them.”
In his first game back since an injury prematurely ended his 2019 season, Bulldogs quarterback Aram Araradian held his own as well. Araradian finished with 17 completions on 36 attempts for 256 yards and four touchdowns. Burbank star receiver Brandon Pena earned praise from both coaches, catching all four of those touchdowns on seven receptions for 124 yards, both of which were game highs.
“Special player. That’s Brandon, that’s the kid he’s been since he’s been here. We all know what he’s capable of and it’s always fun when he gets to put on that show,” Colman said. “He’s set his bar high and then late last season with Aram getting hurt, we had to go to a run offense. So he’s been eager to catch some balls from Aram again.”
But Pasadena quarterback Dante Coronel was solid in his season debut, completing 12 passes on 18 attempts for 232 yards and five touchdowns. Most of the yardage came in the first half, as Coronel found three different receivers in the end zone — including Gamaliel “Kevin” Serrato twice — to give Pasadena a 28-12 advantage at halftime.
“Truly from last year [Coronel has] very much matured,” Pasadena head coach DeJuan Shamburger said. “I talked to him on the sideline about that – ‘Man, is this the same quarterback from last year?’… He’s been watching a lot of film, just doing what you gotta do to get better.”
In the second half, Pasadena closed the door on any potential Burbank rally by shifting to a clock-chewing, run-heavy approach on offense and winning the turnover battle decisively. PHS forced five turnovers, including four interceptions, over the course of the game.
Pasadena’s running back tandem of Daylon Beasley (123 yards and one touchdown on 22 carries) and Ahmad Jolley (69 yards on 14 carries) did most of their damage in the second half. Beasley had big contributions on PHS’s long opening drives of the third and fourth quarters, both of which resulted in touchdowns.
“[Beasley] came out working hard like a big workhorse.” Shamburger said. “Like every kid that played football [tonight], he waited a whole year. So it was like man, let the animal out of the cage; let everybody out of the cage.”
Burbank also got contributions in the passing game from Brayon Crawford (two catches, two carries, 54 total yards), Rony Preza (one catch, three yards), Jagg Richer (three catches, 25 yards), Adrian Diaz-Infante (one catch, four yards) and David Manko (five catches, 57 yards).
Pasadena got help from Jamir Allen (one catch, 81 yards, one touchdown), Jason Sanford (two catches, two carries, seven total yards), Kaysean Taylor (one carry, four yards), Mekhi Fox (six catches, 46 yards, two touchdowns), Serrato (four catches, 80 yards, two touchdowns) and Jamir Mitchell (one catch, 18 yards).
Burbank had its home opener on Friday against Serrano High School of Phelan.