High School Sports

Burbank stands to be Titans again in football despite low roster numbers

Burbank was down to 14 players during the Sheldon contest but is now up to 22, though not all are fully healthy. The junior varsity has 28 players.
Burbank was down to 14 players during the Sheldon contest but is now up to 22, though not all are fully healthy. The junior varsity has 28 players. Burbank football

Eddie Elder is an upbeat guy by nature.

He coaches football at his alma mater, on 3500 Florin Road, home of the Burbank Titans.

We list the address because that is what proud alumni and current players refer to their school as, in person or on social media.

Elder coaches his players hard, loves them up just the same and preaches the positives of being a student-athlete on campus. He was one himself, a running back and defensive star for Burbank in 2004-06 before playing on scholarship at Arizona State and a brief pro career in the NFL and CFL.

Elder is in his third season as coach on his old turf, having delivered back-to-back playoff teams before running headlong into a monstrous challenge. Low roster numbers have left Elder pondering what no fighter wants to ponder: forfeits.

Elder pulled the plug in the third quarter of the season’s second game against Sheldon, on Aug. 30, the battered Titans trailing 42-12 when the coach told referees it was time to call the game.

Elder said he would do it again, if needed, against Vacaville on Friday. In a complete game, the gritty Titans gave it a go in a 41-0 loss.

“We’re cool, and the old faithful stay and play,” Elder said. “We’re trying to get our numbers up, trying to get kinds interested in playing, trying to get some eligible, trying to make it all work.

“The benefits of football are life skills, life experiences outside of school and outside the household. Sports can be such a great experience for kids. Kids need things like this. Life is about adversity, and sports can help kids be more outspoken outside a comfort zone.”

Football has basked in great moments on this campus since opening in 1963, and the program has flinched during lean times.

The Titans produced championship teams in the 1960s and competed for Metro League banners in the late 1970s. The 1980s were not always kind at Burbank with low roster numbers and dreadful 1-9 seasons. But there was a program revival in the 1990s and 2000s, including a spectacular new on-campus football stadium, under coaches John Heffernan and James Pale, now in their third season as the Elk Grove High coaches.

Elder experienced a change at Burbank as a player. The Titans went 1-9 his sophomore season in 2004, then went 9-3 and 6-5 with playoff teams the following two seasons.

The Sheldon game was a humbling experience for Elder, and scores of other alumni who have come forward through a social media drive to offer a hand to help the program, be it working in the snack bar on game nights, working the yard markers or postgame cleanup.

Burbank was down to 14 players during the Sheldon contest but is now up to 22, though not all are fully healthy. The junior varsity has 28 players.

“We asked for a running clock (in the second half) against Sheldon because we had no more bodies,” Elder said. “I had three guys left on the sideline, and I’ve got guys cramping up on the field. Our last lineman went down. I had to put a running back in to play line. I look to the sideline and all I’ve got left is a punter and a kicker. It was tough to see our kids fight and give it all they had, and I was proud of them. We have some guys cleared to play this week. These kids are so resilient. You can see in their eyes that they want to compete and play. They’re my kids and this is my school.”

Which tells you exactly why Elder returned to Burbank.

“Everyone’s got to do their part,” he said. “I could’ve easily have stayed in Arizona, or gone to Texas to coach and work. I could’ve been in a different city, a different state with a bigger check and bigger resources, but why not come home and do my part? We have a great tradition at Burbank. It’s a great school that sometimes gets an unfair reputation. Yes, we have our problems like any school, but I can tell you this: I’m on campus every day. It’s a good school with good kids doing good things.”

Elder has more than just his football family going on.

He got married on Saturday to his bride MerSades, in the backyard of his parent’s Sacramento home. They are expecting their first child later this month.

Life is good, if not a bit frantic on Friday nights.

Burbank has talent, including large linemen and speedy skill players, a staple of the program for decades. Del Campo comes for a visit Friday before a major challenge at unbeaten powerhouse Inderkum on Sept. 27.

The Metropolitan Conference schedule includes some programs similar in roster size and competitive equity as Burbank, including River City, McClatchy and Kennedy

Roster woes at Mesa Verde, Mira Loma

Low roster numbers and the concern for player safety prompted two San Juan Unified School District teams to forfeit games on Friday, though Mesa Verde and Mira Loma expect to return to action this week.

Mesa Verde was scheduled to play at East Nicolaus but coaches alerted those coaches in time for the Spartans to hurriedly reschedule.

East Nicolaus found a taker at Galileo of San Francisco, and the Spartans made a day of it, starting with a 41-0 daytime victory followed by a sightseeing trip through the city.

Mesa Verde (1-1) plays Encina Prep on Friday at San Juan.

Mira Loma (0-2) forfeited against unbeaten Center and will have a bye this week, allowing time to get healthy with a game against Galt on Sept. 20.

Mira Loma coach Leonard Casillas said the goal was to “absolutely” finish the season.

New life for Laguna Creek

From 1-9 to 2-1, life is good at Laguna Creek under first-year coach Ryan Nill, a former Cardinals player.

Friday’s atmosphere at Cosumnes River College against Dublin had the feel of homecoming and senior night – minus the floats – and it’s proof that programs can turn the corner in a hurry.

Laguna Creek’s band and auxiliary, 164 strong, stretched across the football field during halftime, though there were no kings and queens to be crowned.

The school announced the first eight inductees to its Hall of Fame. It was part of the school’s 25th anniversary celebration. Principal Doug Craig, who was on the school’s original planning committee, said talk of a Hall of Fame began a couple years ago. Athletic director Jon Ussery tirelessly worked on a Hall class, leading Craig to say, “It was the perfect time” to start the effort.

The inductees – Rachel Bryan, Joe Kirchofer, Josh Lex, Allen McCoy, Chaniqua Ross, Isaiah Ross and Nicole Ybarra – included state champions and multiple-sport athletes, some of whom went on to play in college and professionally.

The biggest Hall of Fame cheer went to Randy Watanabe, who has been at Laguna Creek since Year 1, serving as athletic director and a coach in boys volleyball, boys and girls golf and varsity and freshman football.

Other loud cheers went to running back Tyrel Brown, who rushed for 259 yards and three touchdowns, and he threw for one, in a 22-21 loss to the Gaels.

Volleyball rankings

Top-ranked St. Francis went 10-0 last week, including wins over No. 2 Oak Ridge, No. 6 Christian Brothers and sweeping through the Central California Classic.

In the 8-0 weekend showing, the Troubadours didn’t drop a set. Alexa Edwards earned tournament MVP honors and juniors Chloe Henning and Ashley Magley earned all-tournament accolades.

No. 9 Lincoln passed its first major test in beating No. 14 Whitney on the road. The Zebras are led sophomore outside hitter Morgan Colyer, who has 27 kills this season.

Jordyn Deter, daughter of Lincoln coach Jeff Deter, has 56 assists in three games.

No. 10 Vacaville started Monticello Empire League play with a four-set victory over rival and No. 17 Vanden. The Bulldogs are led by captains Camille Rivers, Sam Wasielewski and Tiana Zamora. Jordyn Moriarty and Izzy Bandy have also been big contributors. – Cameron Salerno

The Bee’s Top 20

Sac-Joaquin Section


Large Schools

1. Folsom (2-0)

2. Monterey Trail (3-0)

3. Oak Ridge (3-0)

4. St. Mary’s (1-1)

5. Turlock (2-1)

6. Capital Christian (2-1)

7. Inderkum (3-0)

8. Granite Bay (2-1)

9. Buhach Colony (3-0)

10. Del Oro (2-1)

11. Oakdale (2-1)

12. Davis (3-0)

13. Rocklin (2-1)

14. Downey (3-0)

15. Sheldon (2-1)

16. Elk Grove (1-1)

17. Central Catholic (0-3)

18. Manteca (2-1)

19. Edison (2-1)

20. Vacaville (1-2)

- Joe Davidson/Julian Lopez

The Bee’s Top 10

Sac-Joaquin Section


Small Schools

1. Escalon (3-0)

2. Hilmar (3-0)

3. Bear River (3-0)

4. Center (3-0)

5. Ripon (2-0)

6. Ripon Christian (2-1)

7. Denair (2-0)

8. Woodland (1-2)

9. Bradshaw Christian (2-0)

10. Colfax (1-1)

- Julian Lopez/Joe Davidson

The Bee’s Top 20


1. St. Francis (12-0)

2. Oak Ridge (8-2)

3. Rocklin (8-4)

4. Cosumnes Oaks (10-2)

5. Nevada Union (12-1)

6. Christian Brothers (8-4)

7. Rio Americano (8-4)

8. Del Oro (8-5)

9. Lincoln (5-0)

10. Vacaville (8-1)

11. Pleasant Grove (3-2)

12. Folsom (7-7)

13. Oakmont (5-1)

14. Whitney (4-6)

15. Pioneer (10-2)

16. Ponderosa (4-6)

17. Vanden (2-1)

18. Granite Bay (4-5)

19. Bear River (6-1)

20. Woodcreek (8-5)

- Cameron Salerno

Football Schedule

Week 4

Unless noted, all games kick off between 7-7:30 p.m.

Bradshaw Christian at East Nicolaus

Casa Roble at Ponderosa

Colusa at Colfax

Del Campo at Burbank

De La Salle at Folsom

El Camino at Center

El Dorado at Bret Harte

Elk Grove at Shasta

Foothill at Natomas

Franklin at Grant

Freedom at Antelope

Granite Bay at Vacaville

Highlands at Wheatland

Laguna Creek vs. Florin at Monterey Trail

Liberty Ranch at Bear River

Lincoln at Whitney

McClatchy at Johnson, 4:30 p.m.

Mesa Verde vs. Encina at San Juan

Monterey Trail at Cosumnes Oaks

Pioneer at Davis

Placer at Vista del Lago

Rio Americano at Rocklin

Rio Linda at Roseville

River Valley at Pleasant Valley

Rodriguez at River City

Rosemont at Cordova

Sacramento vs. Del Oro at Hughes Stadium

San Juan at Foresthill

Sheldon at Turlock

Union Mine at Amador

Valley vs. Galt at Cosumnes River College

Western Sierra at Esparto

Winters at Rio Vista

Woodcreek vs. Pleasant Grove at Sheldon

Yuba City at Chico


Capital Christian vs. Chandler (Ariz.) in Moorpark, noon

Golden Sierra at Delta Charter, 1 p.m.

Nevada Union at Harbor-Santa Cruz, 5 p.m.

Jesuit vs. Christian Brothers at Hughes Stadium, 7 p.m.

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