Road to victory returns home

Burros defeat Mayfair in semi-finals, play Aquinas Friday on home field

Road to victory returns homePictured: Burroughs High School football defenders take down the Mayfair Monsoon offense during last week’s semi-final, which the Burros won 31-14 to put them in Friday’s CIF championship game against Aquinas High School Falcons. — Photo by Laura Austin

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By CHASE CRACRAFT, News Review Correspondent

“As a football guy, I always want to play past Thanksgiving, and we finally got our shot,” said Head Coach Todd Mather, whose Burroughs Burros will host the Aquinas High School Falcons in the CIF Southern Section Division 9 championship game tonight at 7 p.m.

Coming off last Friday’s 31-14 semifinal victory over the Mayfair Monsoons, the Burros will vie for the championship for the first time since 2005 and only the fourth time in school history.

“I couldn’t ask for a better opportunity,” said Mather. “These kids have put us in that position, so we are going to put a game plan together and try and win that damn game!”

While the Falcons (13-0) enjoy a perfect record this season, the Burros (11-2) have faced a more rigorous schedule. Two of Burroughs’ opponents — Paraclete and Rancho Verde — have made it to the CIF finals themselves. Burroughs lost to D5 Paraclete 28-56, but won against D3 Rancho Verde 33-19. Rancho Verde is coached by former BHS Head Coach Jeff Steinberg.

Steinberg was the Burros coach when the school last appeared in a CIF Southern Section Championship football game in 2005. For that game, the Burros had to make a nearly five-hour bus ride to Palm Springs — but the title was theirs. This year as the higher seed, the Burros will host for the first time in school history. The Burros previously contended for the title in 2003 and 1974.

Burroughs Principal Bryan Auld says that in his 20-plus years’ experience, he has never witnessed so much excitement for a game.

“The circumstances surrounding this championship run are unprecedented,” said Auld. “While there have been three other teams in the history of the school who made the CIF championship game, only one (2005) has ever won the title. What’s more, none of those teams played the championship game on their home turf. I believe it is the combination of these circumstances that is inspiring the excitement.”

Auld said the school sold more than 600 presale tickets in just the first day.

“Alumni are planning to travel to this game by the hundreds; some purchased their plane tickets late last Friday night because they knew they would not have missed this. This is going to be history making, and it could not have happened to a more hard-working group of players and coaches. These guys have put in the time, and they have earned this opportunity. It will be a battle, but I can’t wait to see them accept the championship plaque this Friday night.”

The school organized a bonfire pep rally Thursday night on the north side of campus.

The Burros are returning home after playing the semifinal round on the road. Last week the Burros arrived at Ron Yary Stadium with a single goal in mind -- to advance to the CIF Championship game. The weather for the game could not have been any better, with mild temperatures in the low to mid seventies, despite the slushy grass field.

The Burros, keeping their streak going, decided to receive the kickoff in hopes of getting immediate points on the board. Even though the Burros didn’t get those points on the first possession, they managed to score first with a 27-yard field goal by Senior Ryan Arlow that came after an interception by Junior Bryson Pippin.

The Monsoons quickly answered Arlow’s kick with a touchdown run, making the score 3-7 Mayfair with 11:54 remaining in the first half. After a series of punts by both teams, the Burros got the ball down to Mayfair’s 1-yard line off three quarterback scrambles by Senior Austin Griffin with 3:32 remaining in the half.

It took only one more play, as the Burros took the lead off a 1-yard touchdown run by Senior Antonio Ramirez, bringing the score to 10-7 Burros. The Monsoons, fighting hard for their shot at the gold, scored a touchdown off a run to make the score 10-14 Monsoons with 1:23 left in the first half.

The Burros, not wanting to be down at halftime, answered Mayfair’s touchdown with one of their own. Griffin scored on a 3-yard QB scramble that put the Burros ahead 17-14 going into the half.

Going into the second half, the Burros made a few defensive changes to keep the Monsoons from doing any more damage.

“We played well during the first half. We were really shutting them down,” said Defensive Coordinator Elijah Soto. “It was just a couple big plays that allowed the 14 points, so going into the second half if we could keep them to just one score, we could go ahead and send in the strong defensive pressure that we wanted to send in from the start. We sent our defensive ends in hard instead of playing to contain, and it allowed us to knock their back out, minimizing their offensive strategy.”

The halftime adjustments seemed to work as the Monsoons were forced to punt after their first series in the second half. This was then followed by a key pass from Griffin to Senior Jack Sherritt, putting the Burros on Mayfair’s 8-yard line with 3:30 remaining in the third quarter.

The final 8 yards came from Ramirez, who scored his second TD of the night, making the score 24-14 Burroughs. With only 6:49 left in the game, a big fourth down stop came by a monster sack by Senior Brock Mather, giving the Burros the ball back on Mayfair’s 35-yard line. The scoring for Ramirez continued with a 30-yard touchdown run, making the final score 31-14 Burroughs.

“We were definitely a little jittery in the first half,” said Coach Mather. “We had some decent plays called that we just couldn’t execute. We made some adjustments at half knowing we could get Tony [Antonio Ramirez] out into the flats and get the middle of the field open for guys like Jack. This allowed us to really start pounding the run game.”

Story First Published: 2017-12-01