Burton High School has fielded a football team since 2002, and to put it mildly, it has struggled to find success.
The Pumas have yet to produce a winning season, stumbling to a 14-59 record in Academic Athletic Association play, have yet to play a postseason game and the most wins they’ve registered in a single season was four back in 2010.
In the past, getting students to stay on the field has been a struggle, so much so that in 2012, Burton had to cancel varsity football altogether.
Coach Duane Breaux, who led the Pumas from 2002 to ’09, is back for his second year on his second tour of duty at the school. After spending the past few seasons helping coach running backs at City College of San Francisco, he feels the wealth of knowledge he soaked in will have a positive impact on Burton going forward.
Breaux has implemented strict regimens that he learned while assisting as a coach at CCSF the past few years, which includes mandatory weight training, study hall where progress reports are due bi-weekly, and at least 90 percent of the roster must be present in order for practice to transpire.
“We have to build this thing from the ground up and be accountable” Breaux said. “We had two different weight sessions this summer. For the guys that didn’t have a job, they lift right after summer school. For the guys that did have a job, they lifted in the evening. You know, I did like CCSF does, ‘If you don’t come, you don’t play.’”
Like CCSF, Breaux is installing the spread offense with the hopes of creating space running lanes for Burton’s plethora of athletes, highlighted by sophomore Dominic Maua (6-foot-2, 170 pounds), who will start at quarterback in today’s season opener against Castlemont of Oakland, and junior Tyjohn Knight (6-0, 185 pounds), who will get the bulk of the carries in Burton’s single-back spread offense.
“We’re going to run a similar system [to CCSF], and we believe we can move the ball with some of the talent we have,” Breaux said. “We like what Dominic can do for us, and Tyjohn is one of our strongest players on the team. He lifts with our lineman.”
According to Breaux, Burton lacks depth along the offensive line, and he’s hoping his lineman, “holds their blocks just long enough for the backs to get through the holes.”
Senior middle linebacker Emanuel Tagaloa (6-1, 225 pounds) will captain the defense, and senior Joshua Delgado (5-7, 155 pounds) will anchor the secondary playing safety and cornerback.
“Joshua will come up from the secondary and make tackles. He’s solid,” Breaux said. “Same thing with Emanuel, he’ll make plays for us on that side of the ball.”
Leading Burton to its first AAA playoff appearance is a goal for Breaux, but he hasn’t made that a priority. He just wants his team to play in unison in hopes of garnering respect for his program.
“I told these guys ‘Don’t look forward to the playoffs if we’re not playing together,’” Breaux said. “If we’re playing together, the playoff [berth] will come. Our goal is to play together and get some respect. We’ve been a school that hasn’t been respected so that, so we want to build towards respectability.”
Last season: 2-9 overall, 1-6 in the Academic Athletic Association (seventh place)
Three things to watch:
– Who will step up at receiver for Burton, a position that is vital in the spread system?
– Burton’s final four AAA games are treacherous as they go up against the cream of the crop in Lowell, Lincoln, Mission and Galileo.
– With only 25 players on the roster, staying healthy will be key as Burton is not extremely deep.
Today at Castlemont* 5 p.m.
Sept. 12 at Calif. School for the Deaf* 7 p.m.
Sept. 20 at Piner* 2 p.m.
Oct. 4 vs. Balboa 2 p.m.
Oct. 11 vs. Washington 2 p.m.
Oct. 17 at Lowell 3 p.m.
Oct. 25 at Lincoln 2 p.m.
Nov. 1 vs. Mission 2 p.m.
Nov. 14 at Galileo 2 p.m.