Keeping the momentum going after a successful season can often be a tough task.
The Burbank High boys' water polo team will be facing just such a challenge this season after enjoying one of its most fruitful years in program history in 2012.
Across town, Burroughs will also be looking to build on the success it enjoyed last season after making it make to the playoffs for the first time in a number of years.
The rival squads also have something else in common: new coaches. The Indians have tabbed former player and 2008 graduate Michael Singhanate to head the program, as he takes over for Danny Garcia. Taking over for former coach Kristina Garcia at Burbank is Zeb Jenkins, who was a Bulldogs assistant.
Here is a look at how the teams are shaping up.
The Bulldogs went 14-8 in 2012 and were a competitive force in league. Along with finishing second in the Pacific League behind Glendale, the Bulldogs won their CIF Division V opener against Arlington, 14-10, before falling to La Serna, 14-10, in the quarterfinals.
However, Burbank lost two key players to graduation, athletes who were All-CIF Southern Section Division V selections. Senior standout Zack Card was a first-team pick, while fellow senior co-captain Sean Savoy made the second team.
The Bulldogs lost a lot with the departure of the two. Card tallied 61 goals on the season, to go along with 34 assists, 11 field blocks and 52 steals. Savoy had nine field blocks and added 38 goals and 24 assists. Both were also all-league first-team selections and Card was an All-Area second-team pick.
But the team does have a returning All-CIF selection in senior goalkeeper Derek Baer, who garnered a third-team selection. Baer finished last season with 123 saves, 24 assists and 16 steals.
"We have some returners from last year's squad and some players from JV have moved up to the varsity level," Jenkins said. "For those who are returning, last year's nice CIF playoff run was one of the best experiences that the Bulldogs went through."
Burbank also has a potent returning offensive weapon in senior utility Dante Nazarian. The all-league pick had 43 goals, 24 assists and 41 steals in 2012.
"Dante Nazarian and Derrick Baer are looking to gear the team toward another run with the help of the new starters and upcoming players coming off from the bench," Jenkins said.
Returners who should bolster the Burbank squad are sophomore driver Artur Mheryan, senior attacker Andres Pulgarian, senior utility Robert Mheryan and senior two-meter Gevork Terzyan.
Jenkins said by being a coach in the program last season, he knows the caliber of talent and knows what to expect from his players.
"As an assistant last year, I've had the privilege to coach everyone," said Jenkins, who will be assisted by former Burroughs player Jarrod Przebieda, who played alongside the Indians' current coach. "I was able to prepare a few players from the JV squad last year for the varsity team this year. There were a few times where I filled in for the head coach at games last year and there are players this year who know my coaching style.
"This year we have added many great players to the JV team, where we will be grooming them and preparing them for the varsity level for next year since we currently have a varsity team with more than half of them being seniors."
Despite losing some key players from last season's successful squad, Jenkins said he is not lowering the expectations for this season's group.
"I have high expectations from the returners and I believe this year, despite losing such talent from last year's squad, the players on the current varsity team will step up and take their places," he said. "We have a great team with Dante Nazarian, Andres Pulgarian and Derrick Baer leading them in the water. Our first goal is to reach the league championships and then move our way toward CIF.
Jenkins said he expects the stiffest league competition to come from Glendale and Crescenta Valley.