Looking at the 2014 schedule for the Burbank High football team, one thing stands out.
"We only have three home games," said Burbank first-year Coach Richard Broussard, though one of the team's road games is against host Burroughs at Memorial Field, where Burbank also plays its home games. "We're going to have to get used to playing on the road."
Being on the road for seven games seems like a daunting task for the Bulldogs. It seems even more challenging that Burbank will play its first four games to open the season away from the friendly confines of Memorial Field.
However, it's not by chance that the Bulldogs are playing all of their nonleague games on the road before opening Pacific League play at Pasadena on Sept 29.
"That is something that we are going to need as a team, to be tested on the road early on," Broussard said. "We are kind of young defensively and we have some guys in new spots, so we are going to see what we are like very early.
"Playing all those road games is something that I embrace and something that we designed. We really need that adversity before we head into league; that's the only way we're going to get better. So, we see it as a challenge."
Last season, Burbank went 10-3 after a 5-2 Pacific League finish in which it tied for second place. The Bulldogs then advanced to the divisional semifinals — the program's first final-four appearance since 1927.
Gone from the schedule are Canoga Park and Inglewood, two teams that didn't really push the Bulldogs last season. Burbank defeated Canoga Park, 65-7, and trounced Inglewood, 50-12.
"It's always nice to see new teams every few years," Broussard said. "That way you get the experience of facing different programs."
The Bulldogs open their season Aug. 29 and will travel to the Chino Hills to take on Ayala. Broussard is familiar with Ayala of the Inland Empire, having played at Ontario High.
"Yeah, I'm an IE guy; I know the way they play football out there," Broussard said.
Ayala went 3-7 in 2013 and finished fifth in the Sierra League with a 1-4 mark.
Burbank will play a familiar opponent in the second week in Bell Gardens on Sept. 5. Last season, the Bulldogs defeated the Lancers, 33-14, to open up the season. Bell Gardens went on to a 7-4 season and a runner-up finish to Montebello in the Almont League.
"That's always a tough game for us," Broussard said about Bell Gardens. "They have a good program over there and they usually have some tough teams. We expect them to be good."
In the third week, the Bulldogs will travel to the Santa Clarita Valley to take on a new opponent in Canyon Country Canyon on Sept. 19. The Bulldogs and Cowboys used to be Foothill League opponents until Burbank and Burroughs were moved to the Pacific League.
Canyon had a solid showing in 2013, finishing 8-3 and placing second in league with a 4-1 mark behind champion Valencia.
"We know that is a good program and they have been pretty strong the last few years," Broussard said. "They actually contacted us for the game and we accepted. That is going to be a good test for us for sure."
The three nonleague games will lead Burbank into its Pacific League opener Sept. 26 at Pasadena (1-9, 1-6 in league for seventh place last year).
The Bulldogs will finally arrive at Memorial Field for their home opener Oct. 3 in a league contest against Crescenta Valley (8-2, 5-2 tied for second place). They will then play league contests at Muir (11-2, 7-0 for first place) on Oct. 10, at Glendale (4-6, 2-5 for sixth place) on Oct. 16, host Hoover (2-8, 0-7 for eighth place) on Oct. 24 and host Arcadia (5-5, 3-4 for fifth place) on Oct. 30. Burbank will end its regular season Nov. 7 when it is the visitor against Burroughs (6-5, 5-2 tied for second place) at Memorial Field.
"We know league is going to be competitive," Broussard said. "There are going to be some much-improved teams in the league so we have to make sure we bring it each and every week.
Follow Jeff Tully on Twitter: @jefftsports.