by Will James

Hometown Sports

After losing their first three games of the season. including a pair of one-point losses to perennial league title contenders Christian Brothers and Sheldon, the Burbank Titans have rattled off four consecutive victories to move into a tie for first place atop the Metropolitan League standings.

Despite their impressive turnaround, #20 Burbank will undergo its toughest test of the season when the Titans journey to Elk Grove and square-off with the undefeated and 5th-ranked Monterey Trail Mustangs, Friday at 7:00 pm.

This game — featuring two of the most dynamic quarterbacks in the region —  may be seen on Comcast Cable channel 17, Consolidated Communications channel 17, and AT&T U-Verse channel 14.  The game will also be streamed live on and on the NFHS Network.

Despite the daunting prospect of facing his toughest opponent to date, Burbank’s 2nd-year Head Coach, Eddie Elder, has good reason to feel optimistic about the Titans’ chances, beginning with his Blue Chip star power in Jamele Bailey.  The senior QB is enjoying an excellent season as one of the most dangerous double threats in the area, having passed at 50% efficiency for 1063 yards and 15 TD.

Among a host of speedy play-makers, HB Taniela Fisilau, WB Darius Daniel, and SB Maliq Trice have combined for more than 1000 yards rushing and 14 TD.  WR Edward Asi is Bailey’s favorite target, averaging 28 yards per catch with 7 TD.  Daniel and Trice have teamed for 21 receptions and 6 TD.

Bailey, who also starts in the secondary, is Burbanks leading run- stopper with 63 tackles.  Free Safety Asi, and LBs Fislilau and Duke Finau are also anchors on defense.

The Monterey Trail offense is explosive, averaging 49 ppg.  Big-play QB Zach Larrier is a force.  He’s passed for nearly 800 yards in the run-heavy Veer Offense, completing 61% of his aerials with 12 TD, just 1 interception, and a 138.6 QBR.

The Mustangs’ rushing attack is more than spectacular.  Larrier has carried for 659 yards and 9 TD, while Jehiel Budgett (859 yds., 14 TD), Viktor Brown (400 yds. 3 TD), Prophet Brown 317 yds., 5 TD), Thaddeus Hills, and Caleb Ramseur form a deep and versatile brigade of running backs.

Andre Crump is the Mustangs’ top receiver, averaging 23 yards per catch with 8 TD.  Budgett is strong out of the backfield, with 173 receiving yards and a TD, while Brandon Hwa has chipped-in with 3 of his six receptions going for TDs.

On defense, the Mustangs fly to the ball with intense gang tackling.  Their pass rush that has registered 13 sacks and rampaging LBs and DBs that have gathered 7 fumble recoveries and 8 interceptions.  The linebacker quartet of Marcus Jones Jr., Andrew Almonte, Hwa, and Hill are an imposing group of relentless tacklers.

Sole possession of first place is at stake in this Metro League showdown; a fracas that is sure to draw a sellout crowd at Mark Macres Memorial Stadium.  Circle Friday’s game date in red.