MONTEZUMA — Imagine being a fly on the wall during dinner at the Burgess household.
Just to listen to the back-and-forth between Montezuma junior Eddie Burgess and his parents, Janel and Tim Burgess, comparing their athletics achievements and claiming to be the family’s best competitor.
Janel, a 1994 Montezuma graduate and the Braves’ head girls’ basketball coach, averaged more than 50 points per game in high school before becoming a two-time all-Big 12 selection at Iowa State. Tim Burgess played football for Mason (Mich.) High School, opting to focus on academics in college. Their son has been carving his own niche as a multisport standout for Montezuma.
“Every night we talk about it,” Eddie Burgess said. “We always talk smack. It’s always a family thing. Since we’ve all been in sports we’re just messing around at home. You did this and I did this in high school. It’s just kind of fun.”
The younger Burgess can make a pretty good case for himself. The all-state quarterback leads the entire state in touchdowns, all-purpose yardage and ranks among the leaders in a handful of categories, accounting for 10 TDs in last week’s 73-32 blowout victory over Winfield-Mount Union. The 8-Player seventh-ranked Braves are 2-0 and play at New London Friday.
“He’s been killing it the last two years,” Montezuma Coach Patrick O’Brien said. “He has been a tremendous leader for us and the young kids coming up.
“It is an expectation that he does the best to his ability. It’s also an expectation for the rest of the team as well. They’re all clicking, right now. It’s really fun to watch.”
Burgess possesses all the ingredients for success — size, skill, instinct, work ethic, leadership, competitiveness and pedigree. Oh, that pedigree. Janel (Grimm) Burgess was a dominant 6-on-6 player and scored almost 1,500 career points for the Cyclones. She also coached at the NCAA Division I and II levels, returning to her alma mater in 2017.
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“It’s motivated me,” Burgess said. “They’ve always let me make my own decisions. They never pushed me to play any sport. They have been like, ‘If you want to play this, it’s all up to you.’ I really appreciate that and I like how they aren’t pushing me away from sports.”
Burgess is relatively new to the gridiron. When many of his classmates began playing tackle football in middle school, he didn’t start until junior high due to concerns of concussions in younger players. He was still learning the game and developed a similar passion for the game, like his dad.
“Now, I’m here and I couldn’t be happier,” Burgess said. “My dad played football. He loved the game. He’s just been teaching along the way. Ever since I’ve learned about him playing football I’ve wanted to do what he did and be great like him. It’s been fun. I just feel like this is where I want to be.”
The 6-foot-5, about 220-pounder plays basketball and baseball, but football tops the list. He has aspirations to play in college, receiving some interest from programs at the next level.
“I feel like my teammates and me click really well in football,” Burgess said. “I just feel like it’s my favorite sport. Definitely, the one that I enjoy the most.”
Burgess started his career as a tight end. O’Brien opted to buck traditional thinking that the best athlete should be at quarterback, instead he wanted his best football player in that role. Burgess moved under center and Montezuma improved by four wins after the change, going 6-3 last season. Burgess passed for 2,914 yards and 49 TDs. He added 1,025 yards and 20 scores on the ground. Burgess even returned one of his two interceptions for a defensive TD, giving him 444 total points.
“You could tell he was really something special,” O’Brien said. “I could tell he was our best football player.
“Your best football player needs to be your quarterback. He needs to understand the game, what’s going on and he needs to lift up the players around him.”
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Burgess has 16 TDs this season, tying for the state lead with eight passing. He also has 952 all-purpose yards with 682 through the air. Burgess has 200 rushing yards and seven scores. Against WMU, he passed for five TDs, rushed for four and added a 65-yard kick return for a score.
“When I’m playing, I’m just trying to play to the best of my abilities,” Burgess said. “I always trust my teammates. I know if I put the ball up there somebody’s going to go up and get it. That’s really what makes me look good. My wide receivers, going up to get my passes. I’m not perfect.”
O’Brien praised his leadership and hard work in the offseason. His vision on the field might separate him from others, surprising his coach with some unexpected downfield pitches that set teammates up for scores.
“Seeing the field,” O’Brien said of a Burgess strength. “He makes some plays that most of the time I don’t see, honestly. He understands where all his teammates are.”
Much of that comes naturally. He reacts and trusts his ability.
“I definitely play off my instinct,” Burgess said. “When I see something I just go after it. I don’t really hesitate. It’s really fun playing with the guys.”
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