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Pacific League football season opens with high expectations

Football: Local hopes are high as league title aspirations, CIF Southern Section playoff berths are up for grabs.

September 25, 2013|By Andrew J. Campa, andrew.campa@latimes.com
  • ARCHIVE PHOTO: The Burbank and Crescenta Valley high football teams are both considered strong contenders for the Pacific League championship in 2013.
ARCHIVE PHOTO: The Burbank and Crescenta Valley high… (Tim Berger/Staff…)

A quick glance at the Pacific League shows diversity up and down, or perhaps better stated, north, south, east and west along the Golden State (5) and Foothill (210) freeways.

As league play opens Thursday evening with Hoover High hosting defending league champion Muir at Moyse Field, there is much to watch.

Muir and league runner-up Burbank enter as perhaps the teams with the best shot of winning a title, while Crescenta Valley and Burroughs are certainly in consideration, Hoover and Glendale are up-and-coming suitors and Pasadena and Arcadia welcome new coaches.

If there is a consensus league favorite, then it’s the Mustangs.

“You always have to look at Muir first when you look at the league teams. They are the league champs, so you have to respect that,” Burbank Coach Hector Valencia said, “but we aren’t going to shy away from them and we welcome the competition.”

After wining five of their first seven contests of 2012, the Bulldogs finished 2-2 in the final portion of the season, with one of those defeats a 24-17 setback at Muir on Oct. 19 in what was the de facto league title game.

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Yet, in some regards, this year’s Burbank squad is well ahead of last year’s group, as the Bulldogs may have looked more impressive than other Pacific League team during nonleague play.

Burbank has trounced Bell Gardens, Canoga Park and Inglewood by a combined score of 148-33.

While much focus has been gazed upon junior running back James Williams (29 carries for 230 yards and five touchdowns this season), the Bulldogs have a more polished signal-caller in junior Ryan Meredith (32 for 54 for 528 yards and five touchdowns) a and solid receiver in transfer Oharjee Brown (eight catches for 187 yards) and a defense that has produced eight sacks, 20 tackles for a loss and 10 turnovers this season.

Burbank opens at Arcadia (2-1) on Friday at 7 p.m. with circle-your-calendar games versus Muir (2-1) at Memorial Field on Oct. 18 and at Burroughs on Nov. 8 in the annual “Big Game” rivalry contest.

Burbank is hoping for its first league title since 2009.

While Burbank’s success may have been expected, perhaps nobody quite anticipated the bounce back from Crescenta Valley High, which, like Burbank, also owns a 3-0 mark.

Perhaps that’s why there is cautious optimism over at Falcons camp, even after the team completed an undefeated nonleague run with a 42-14 whipping of Foothill rival La Cañada last Friday.

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