Consecutive 5-4 records and 1st round exits have plagued the Burlington High School football team the last two years, but with a deep roster and plenty of experience, the Wildcats are hoping to change that.
“We have 25 returning starters and 16 seniors from last season,” said Burlington Wildcats head coach John Petrie.
Returning is senior Bradon Sloyer. The two-way starter at running back and linebacker earned All-League and All-Area postseason honors.
In 2019, Sloyer’s 736 yards rushing and 7 touchdowns were second only to Cael Johnson, who graduated in the spring.
Senior Gavin Price should also be an offensive factor for the Wildcats offense.
The legs of the 5’10” 180 lbs. running back isn’t the only threat, but hands are as well. Price caught 259 yards and 2 touchdowns along with 203 yards rushing and 2 touchdowns.
However, the offense faced some difficulties due to the youth and size of the offensive line.
“One of the biggest challenges for us last season was developing an offensive and defensive line,” said Petrie.
Six returning linemen with plenty of experience on the projected starting lineup should not be a problem for the Burlington football team.
The towering physical presence of seniors Jaren Garland, 6’1″ 240 lbs., and Jaxson Gilmore, 6′ 215 lbs., lead the Wildcats upfront.
The line also consists of seniors Jacob Dugar, Karson Allen, Dayton Houston, and Gavin Finnery.
Like many schools in the Southeast Kansas portion of the state, they will start on defense and offense.
Despite the production returning on offense, Coach Petrie pointed to the defense as an area of improvement in 2020.
Last season, the defense surrendered an average of 22 points per game. In district games, the Wildcats gave up just an average of 13 points per game.
This year’s district pairings promise to be one of the most competitive in the state.
Burlington football is paired with fellow Pioneer League members Prairie View, Anderson County, and Iola.
CNC League members Frontenac and Girard round out District 2 in Class 3A.
The Wildcats begin their 2020 campaign on the road against Pioneer League rival Wellsville on Friday, September 4th, 2020.