They can play.
Burbank and River City showed as much Friday night in the Raiders’ 21-16 win. The Division II Metropolitan Conference doesn’t draw the attention of its neighbors, but these guys hit hard and run fast.
River City senior Amari Duncan led the way, sprinting untouched 48 yards on the fifth play of the game for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead. And it was Duncan who picked off a pass near the Burbank sideline and galloped 40 yards for a 14-0 Raiders lead.
Sure, the Raiders are just 2-5 after a meatgrinder of a non-league schedule, including Division I’s Cosumnes Oaks. But 6 minutes and 4 seconds into River City’s game against the Titans, they showed they could play.
“I was severely excited,” Duncan said. “It’s senior night, and I just wanted to come out here and get a win, not just for myself but for all the seniors.”
A win would have been nice for winless Burbank, too. But the 0-7 Titans didn’t crumble despite a frustrating start. Burbank didn’t make positive yardage until it’s 14th play of the game, when quarterback Quantrell Jackson Jr. hit Brandon Cooper on a quick slant that went 50 yards for a touchdown. The Raiders still led 14-7 with 5:39 left in the first half.
Though he was visibly frustrated by his team’s early struggles, Jackson stuck with it to lead his team on a 10-play, 87-yard scoring drive, capped by a 10-yard touchdown pass to Quadir Chouteau to trim the Raiders’ lead to 14-13 at halftime.
“We’re trying to stay up,” Burbank coach Eddie Elder said. “We’re high-spirited because we play for pride. That’s what Burbank’s known for and we’re going to continue that.”
They came close to playing for a win. After a 33-yard bomb to Jerale Griffin Jr. gave River City a 21-16 lead with 10:48 left in the fourth quarter, Burbank had multiple chances to take a win. The Titans’ last drive moved all the way to the Burbank 29-yard line, but a key holding penalty and stout River City defense ended the threat and the game.
As River City’s Duncan reflected on the win, he was asked about the team’s goals.
“The next (three) games, we’re looking to get some dubs,” he said.
What about the playoffs? The Raiders are, after all, 1-1 in the Metropolitan Conference. Duncan tilted his head and raised his eyebrows. The playoffs hadn’t occurred to him. But yeah, that’d be nice.