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Friday Night Prep Football Preview: Burress settles in under center
MOUNTAIN VIEW’S NEW QB MAKING SURE OFFENSE RETAINS ITS FIREPOWER
BY ADAM HIMMELSBACH
Late last Wednesday, Mountain View sophomore quarterback Elijah Burress went to coach Lou Sorrentino with some alarming news. His arm was quite sore, and he had been in pain all week.
Sorrentino sought treatment for Burress, and he also asked him why he had not spoken up earlier. Burress said that he did not want to miss any practice repetitions, because he had worked too hard to claim his starting spot, and he did not want to risk losing it.
Sorrentino was frustrated by his quarterback’s stubbornness, but pleased with his commitment. Burress did not throw at last Thursday’s practice. But the following night, he completed 13 of 19 passes for 220 yards and two touchdowns, helping the Wildcats to a 39–7 win over Osbourn.
“Hopefully, he won’t be afraid to let me know how he’s feeling now,” Sorrentino said. “But if you had seen him Friday, you never would have known his arm was ever bothering him.”
Entering this season, Burress was the most obvious question mark on a Mountain View team that was otherwise filled with answers. Through two games, however, the sophomore has shown a veteran’s aplomb and helped the Wildcats to a dominant start.
Mountain View is 2–0, having outscored its opponents 91–7. Burress has been precise, completing 17 of 24 passes for 273 yards. He also ran for 51 yards in a season-opening win over Freedom.
“We were all thinking, ‘It’s varsity football; he’s going to have to grow into this spot as a starting quarterback,’” Wildcats senior receiver DaeSean Hamilton said. “But he’s already shown he can handle the role.”
Burress started playing football when he was 13, and his coach immediately noticed his athleticism and turned him into a quarterback. Last season, Burress was the starting quarterback on Mountain View’s junior varsity team, and he was called up to varsity for its regional playoff game against Brooke Point.
The speed of the varsity game was startling to Burress, but he watched then-senior quarterback Bubby Morgan closely, and soaked up everything he could. Burress knew there would be a void at quarterback this fall, so last spring he started preparing. He did not miss an offseason workout, and he took the reins in Mountain View’s seven-on-seven passing league.
“The passing league really helped me,” Burress said. “It helped just getting used to the varsity speed, and all the receivers like DaeSean. It’s nice knowing I can throw to him at any time.”
Hamilton said he and Burress often stayed late after workouts to throw to each other, and Hamilton was pleased with the progress.
“He had an arm,” Hamilton said. “He was young, and he’d have to learn the offense, but he had an arm and he could make the right reads.”
Over the summer, Burress went to several camps and instructional clinics to learn more about playing quarterback. And once practices began, it was clear he had separated himself from the competition.
Still, Sorrentino was cautious, because it is easier for an untested sophomore to complete a pass at practice than it is under the lights with hundreds of people watching.
“The composure was the one thing we didn’t know about,” Sorrentino said. “That’s what we had to find out.”
Through two games at least, Burress has been unaffected by pressure. Tonight he will have the biggest test of his brief career, as Mountain View faces No. 1 North Stafford in their Commonwealth District opener. Burress said he wants to deliver his passes a bit more quickly and improve his ability to read defenses. But he appears to be progressing ahead of schedule.
“He’s played really well,” Sorrentino said. “I’m always hesitant to give too much praise or put too much pressure on a kid, but I’ve really liked the way he’s responded. He’s very composed. We’re happy with the way he’s played, but maybe more so with the way he’s carried himself.”
Adam Himmelsbach: 540/374-5442