Prep Football

Eddie Burgess and Chad Beermann are The Gazette's 2020 area football player and coach of the year

Montezuma QB and Waukon coach receive top honors on all-area team

Montezuma's Eddie Burgess and Waukon's Chad Beermann, The Gazette's 2020 area football player and coach of the year.
Montezuma's Eddie Burgess and Waukon's Chad Beermann, The Gazette's 2020 area football player and coach of the year.
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MONTEZUMA — Eddie Burgess approached the sideline during a regular-season game against Lone Tree.

This wasn’t a run-of-the-mill talk between player and coach. The subject didn’t focus on football as much as providing a memorable moment to a teammate.

Coaches had hoped to allow a Braves player with autism to take the field for a play in the regular-season finale. Safety concerns for the player caused apprehension, but Burgess made a plea for his teammate.

“(Burgess) said we’re going to put (him) in and I’m going to stand in front of him,” Montezuma Coach Pat O’Brien said. “‘I’m going to make sure nothing happens to him. I promise. If anyone comes near him, I’ll take care of them.’

“That’s who you’ve got off the field. He’s a guy that will do anything for anybody. He’s just such a humble kid, who cares about so much.”

Burgess said he knew how much getting on the field meant to his teammate and friend, who had worked hard and always came to practice with a good attitude.

“It was amazing,” Burgess said. “He ran out there and he was super nervous. He was like, ‘Eddie, you got me? You’re going to be right next to me?’ and I said ‘I got you.’

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“We ran out there together. He was jumping up and down, getting ready. The smile on his face when he came off the field, I think he was on top of the world. I don’t think there was anything better for him. He just wanted to get out there and see what it felt like and when he got out there it was awesome.”

The glimpse inside his character reveals the devotion to his teammates more than any touchdown pass, first-down run or mind-blowing play Montezuma fans and opponents have come to expect from one of the state’s top playmakers.

The all-state quarterback is driven by that team-first attitude, even if that meant stepping to the forefront and leading the Braves to a 10-1 mark and the second state semifinals appearance in school history.

Burgess finished with 5,094 all-purpose yards and an astounding 89 total touchdowns. He is honored today as The Gazette’s 2020 area football Player of the Year. Waukon Coach Chad Beermann was named Coach of the Year after leading the Indians to their second Class 2A state title.

“We didn’t put any expectations on him other than he was going to have to make his reads, read the defense and we’ll allow you to call some audibles,” O’Brien said of Burgess. “We did that and we expanded the playbook. His understanding of the game, concepts and putting guys in positions to be successful — he did a fantastic job.”

Meet the 2020 Gazette all-area high school football team

The statistics are mind-boggling, even for 8-player competition. Burgess led the entire state in seven offensive categories, ranging from total touchdowns to pass completions. Those numbers meant less than the amount of victories.

“I knew I probably had to put up numbers in order to win, but I knew I had my teammates behind me and no matter what we were going to work together, come together as a family and get it done,” said Burgess, who also is a basketball standout. “The team aspect of football is everything. You can’t do everything by yourself.

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“I knew I had major players around me and great athletes. I could count on them. If they needed to count on me one or two games, I could come up.”

Burgess was nearly unstoppable this season, passing for 3,803 yards and 59 TDs. He added 1,148 yards on the ground with 28 scores and even returned two kickoffs for TDs. He led the state with 207 completions, connecting on 64.1 percent of his passes. Burgess rushed for almost 8 yards per carry.

The 6-foot-4, 215-pounder averaged 450 offensive yards per game. His lowest output was 299 total yards and six TDs in a 49-12 victory over English Valleys.

“You have to think so much outside the box when you’re playing against Eddie,” O’Brien said. “For one, he’s going to try and get in your head. Second, he understands the game so well.”

Production picked up with each postseason win. He recorded 2,085 offensive yards and 37 touchdowns in the playoffs alone, culminating in his top two performances coming in a lopsided quarterfinal victory over Easton Valley and an unforgettable semifinal against eventual state champion Remsen St. Mary’s.

Montezuma and St. Mary’s combined for a state record 202 points. Burgess played his part, setting records for most passing yards in a game (689) and total passing and rushing yards (713). He passed for nine TDs and rushed for four more, finishing the game with a knee ligament injury suffered in the third quarter. Burgess helped the Braves score 94 points, which accounted for 42.5 percent of the total points St. Mary’s allowed all season.

“He’s excelled so much,” O’Brien said. “I’m just so proud of him.”

Burgess owns records for most passing yards in a game and a season, most passing TDs in a season and most combined passing and rushing yards in a game and a season. He ranks fourth in 8-player history with 8,969 career passing and rushing yards, sitting 863 off the record with another year remaining.

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“It was a fun season,” Burgess said. “I really don’t have any regrets.”

Chad Beermann takes Waukon to new heights

Waukon has reached new heights in Chad Beermann’s eight seasons as head coach. The Indians had qualified for the postseason just three times before his arrival. Now, they have two state titles and two runner-up finishes since 2013.

“He’s really knowledgeable of the game,” Waukon all-state linebacker Lincoln Snitker said. “He knows what it takes to be a good program.”

Waukon won its final 10 games and captured its second state crown in four seasons, beating Central Lyon, 28-14, in the 2A final. Beermann has guided the Indians to four straight UNI-Dome appearances, winning championships in 2017 and 2020 and a runner-up finished in 2019.

Beermann watched his veterans mesh with role players for a dominant 10-1 season during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This team was a combination of several kids who were three-year starters, and some kids who found their niche just this year,” Beermann said. “Sometimes, great talent brings big egos, but was not the case with these kids. Through all the uncertainty of this season, it was their trust in each other and willingness to stay together as a team that let us survive and then succeed.”

Beermann has led 11 teams to the playoffs, including five at Valley Community before joining Waukon in 2013. He improved to 160-97 all-time.

He has brought success and consistency to Waukon. After a 24-8 quarterfinal victory at home over five-time state champion Solon to reach the semifinals, Beermann noted how far the program has come.

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“It’s quite an accomplishment,” Beermann said. “We were talking that 10 to 15 years ago, when Solon was in the middle of their titles, if someone had said Waukon would be hosting Solon in a state quarterfinal game people would have laughed.

“Where we’re at right now. I’m really proud of the kids.”

Comments: (319) 368-8679; kj.pilcher@thegazette.com

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