All-County fall sports teams an­nounced

Lackey se­nior back rushes for over 2,000 yards in 2016

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By AJ MA­SON aj­ma­son@somd­news.com

Prior to the 2016 sea­son, Lackey head foot­ball coach John Lush and of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Ji­mari Jones be­lieved that they needed a big run­ning back to go with all five of the team’s re­turn­ing of­fen­sive line­man.

Jones ref­er­enced the 6-foot1, 210-pound for­mer Patux­ent run­ning back Rafiq Dou­glas as a player who was al­ways tough to game plan against.

So with an of­fen­sive line that could pos­si­bly wear down op­pos­ing teams in the fourth quar­ter, hav­ing a power back of that cal­iber would be a bonus late in games.

Af­ter two scrim­mages, Lush and the Lackey coach­ing staff even­tu­ally found a sim­i­lar dia- mond in the rough in the back- field: 6-foot-2 235 pound Ma­lik Burns.

“We worked with a num­ber of kids, but it was clear from the first scrim­mage that Ma­lik was more much more than a 5- to 7-carry back,” said Lush re­fer- ring to Burns, a se­nior who had only played a bit of full­back on ju­nior var­sity as a sopho­more. “In our two scrim­mages, he had eight car­ries for 235 yards and five touch­downs. Once he got to the sec­ond level, peo­ple were lit­er­ally mov­ing out of the way in­stead of try­ing to tackle him.”

Burns went on to have a monster sea­son as he rushed for 2,290 yards to go along with 26 touch­downs, lead­ing Lackey to a dra­matic turn­around sea­son, fin­ish­ing 8-3 over­all, 5-1 in the South­ern Mary­land Ath­letic Con­fer­ence Ch­e­sa­peake Divi­sion, while earn­ing a play­off berth in the Class 2A South Re­gion play­offs.

Burns, the Charg­ers’ spe­cial in­gre­di­ent to the rush­ing at­tack, was named All-SMAC Most Out­stand­ing Player in foot­ball and is this year’s All-County foot­ball Ath­lete of the Year for his ef­forts.

Com­ing into the fall, Burns was pro­jected to start at de­fen­sive end on the other side of se­nior team­mate Nate Proc­tor, but he re­al­ized he wouldn’t be play­ing much on the de­fen­sive side of the ball and be­came the third rusher in school his­tory to top 2,000 yards in a sin­gle sea­son.

“It feels great to see that all my hard work and I just have to thank my front five for all of my suc­cess due to the fact that they cre­ated the holes for me,” said Burns, who had six 200-plus yard games on the sea­son. “I never thought that I would have

a sea­son like this.”

The Charg­ers start­ing of­fen­sive line­men, con­sist­ing of se­nior James Tun­stall, and ju­niors Eli­jah Lane, Wil­lie Bor­den, Ly­dell Wash­ing­ton and Don­trel Thompson, weighed un­der an av­er­age of just 300 pounds.

De­spite run­ning be­hind an of­fen­sive line that had size and ath­leti­cism, not just any run­ning back could’ve been as dom­i­nant as Burns this sea­son.

What made Burns spe­cial, ac­cord­ing to Lush, was a com­bi­na­tion of size, de­cep­tive speed and strength, mixed with a phys­i­cal stature and mind­set of an out­side linebacker — mak­ing him a night­mare for op­pos­ing de­fenses.

“Ma­lik has al­ways been one of the most ath­letic and dy­namic play­ers in our pro­gram,” Lush said. “Dur­ing his ca­reer, he played de­fen­sive line, in­side, out­side linebacker, wide re­ceiv- er, tight end, full­back and run- ning back.”

In the sea­son-end­ing 28-14 loss to host Patux­ent in the 2A South Re­gion semi­fi­nals on Nov. 11, Burns not only rushed for 195 yards and two touch­downs, but he com­pleted 2 of 3 passes for 63 yards at quar- ter­back in the fi­nal game of his high school ca­reer.

“It was just great coach­ing and I would have to thank coach Jones for teach­ing me and keep­ing me very ver­sa­tile,” Burns said.

On Burns’ ver­sa­til­ity, Lush said, “In the last game of the year he took 90 per­cent of the snaps at quar­ter­back. In my 12 years in this con­fer­ence, I can’t ever re­mem­ber a kid be­ing that ver­sa­tile. That speaks to his ath­leti­cism and his will­ing­ness to be coached and do what­ever is in the best in­ter­est of the team. Ev­ery game he thanked his of­fen­sive line. He is ex­tremely un­selfish.”

Af­ter be­ing ded­i­cated to the gym, weights to go along with a pro­tein-packed diet, Burns noted how the off­sea­son and keep­ing his body well-con­di­tioned.

“I just lifted weights, ran hills, drank my pro­tein shakes and ate peanut but­ter and jelly sand­wiches,” said Burns. “Ev­ery day I would do as many pushups as I can.”

De­spite all the suc­cess on the field, Burns has im­proved in the class­room, rais­ing his GPA to a 2.81 thus far. A bit of a late bloomer in his foot­ball ca­reer, Burns has gar­nered NCAA Divi­sion I in­ter­ests from 12 FCS schools.

PHOTO BY DAR­NELL MARBURY

Lackey se­nior Ma­lik Burns, pic­tured here in last week­end’s Chick-fil-A Chal­lenge, rushed for over 2,000 yards this fall, be­com­ing the third Charger in the pro­gram’s his­tory to do so.

PHOTO BY JERRY BALLENGEE

Lackey se­nior Ma­lik Burns, pic­tured here in a Sept. 16 con­test ver­sus St. Charles, iss the All-County Ath­lete of the Year for foot­ball. He also picked up the honor as the All-SMAC Most Out­stand­ing Player.

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