Lineman loves encouraging his teammates and he is always prepared
It was a long pass, right down the middle of the field, a perfect ball thrown by Mountain View quarterback Cash Cook to receiver Akili Kamau on Friday evening during the Thunder’s 37-31 win over Hanford.
The play covered more than 40 yards when Kamau was tackled in the red zone.
What happened next was out of the ordinary.
The first teammate to reach Kamau, to pick him up, to celebrate with him, was wearing a big-guy number. It was not a fellow wide receiver nor a running back. It was Joseph Burcham, No. 59, the starting right guard.
Pure hustle. Pure smarts. Pure passion.
It stood out because, well, because linemen are not typically the first to arrive on scene after a play covers so much distance.
A few questions later to an assistant coach, and it was clear that this was no surprise to the Thunder staff. That’s who Burcham is, a guy always on the move, always encouraging his teammates, always trying to be in the right position.
This week, Burcham and the Thunder will open Class 3A Greater St. Helens League play when they face rival Evergreen at McKenzie Stadium on Friday night. Both teams are 3-1 overall. In a five-team league with only four league games, every game does matter.
Mountain View likes its chances because of players such as Burcham.
“Whenever my teammates come up to me and tell me I’m doing a good job, it really means a lot. I try to give that back,” Burcham said.
Motivation is just one of the reasons Burcham gets on his horse and hustles downfield.
Another is football IQ.
“I like to prepare for the worst-case scenario, if the ball pops out,” he said.
As soon as Cash throws the ball, Mountain View offensive linemen are allowed to go downfield, perhaps to find someone to block or be in position to make a play, if needed. If a teammate were to fumble the ball, Burcham’s hustle just means there is one more chance for the Thunder to retain possession.
“I don’t want to be that guy who says, ‘Oh, I wish I was down there.’ I want to be down there. I’m going to be down there,” Burcham said.
Burcham has been with the program all four seasons of high school. He said he learned from the upperclassmen and now he enjoys teaching the young players.
“I like to help the underclassmen, so I can bring them up and make this program a great experience for them,” Burcham said.
He also inspires with his work ethic outside of football. Burcham is known to do a back-flip from time to time in practice. He is accomplished in the martial arts. He has been training for 11 years, and now he is focusing on Krav Maga, working toward his second degree black belt.
Football. Martial arts. And more. Whatever he is working on, he is working to get better.
“I love the feeling that I’m improving. I love being able to look back and say I went from here, and I made it this far down this road,” he said. “I love the growth process.”
The Mountain View football team is growing, too, under new coach Aaron Hart. The Thunder lost a tough opener but have won three in a row heading into league play. The Thunder also want to avenge last year’s loss to Evergreen.
“I have a lot of faith in us,” Burcham said. “We can improve a bunch this next week, and we can take it to them.”
Notes: Evergreen vs. Mountain View is the second game at McKenzie Stadium on Friday night. The game is tentatively scheduled for 7 p.m. … This will be the 50th meeting between Evergreen and Mountain View. The Thunder lead the series 27-22. Evergreen won last year’s meeting 20-14. Thanks to Bryan Levesque for the research on the rivalry.
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