High School Sports

Prep Football Preview: Burke County

Preseason All-County team

Offense

QB – Jayden Burchfield, Freedom, 6-2, 205, Sr.

RB – Josh Moore, East Burke, 5-10, 180, Sr.

RB –Bryson Ratliff, Patton, 6-0, 195, Sr.

WR – Desmond Caldwell, Freedom, 6-1, 180, Jr.

WR – Denver Treadway, Draughn, 5-11, 150, Jr.

OL – Austin Lowery, Freedom, 6-2, 245, Sr.

OL – Jacob Dembski, Freedom, 5-11, 265, Sr.

OL – Matthew Vue, East Burke, 5-10, 250, Sr.

OL – Ben Varsamis, Patton, 6-2, 210, Sr.

OL – Cody Huffman, East Burke, 6-0, N/A, Sr.

Specialists

ATH – Braxton Cox, Draughn, 6-0, 185, Jr.

ATH – Weston Fleming, Patton, 5-11, 175, Sr.

K/P- Turner Strong, East Burke, 5-8, N/A, Sr.

Defense

DL – Day Day Roddy, Freedom, 5-11, 240, Sr.

DL – Rico Barrino, Patton, 6-1, 294, Sr.

DL – Noah Rooks, East Burke, 6-1, 270, Jr.

LB – Cam Silvers, Freedom, 5-10, 200, Jr.

LB – Alex Flores, Patton, 5-10, 195, Sr.

LB – Kevin Hover, Freedom, 5-11, 215, Sr.

LB – Jackson Vance, Patton, 5-10, 175, Sr.

DB – Day Day Burgess, Freedom, 5-11, 175, Sr.

DB – Damien Dula, Freedom, 5-10, 180, Jr.

DB – Brett Childers, East Burke, 5-10, 170, Sr.

DB – Caleb Taylor, Patton, 6-2, 190, Jr.

Burke County Preseason Offensive Player of the Year: Jayden Burchfield, Freedom, QB, Sr.

Burke County Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Day Day Burgess, Freedom, DB, Sr.

Burke County Preseason Coach of the Year: Luke Little, Freedom.

School Previews

DRAUGHN

Head Coach: Chris Powell (2nd year as Draughn head coach).

2018 Record: 1-10 (1-5 in Northwest Foothills’ 2A conference).

2019 Conference: Northwest Foothills’ 2A conference/2A.

Returning Starters: 12

Returning Letterman: 19

Key Returning Starters: Braxton Cox, Jr., QB (6-0, 185); Denver Treadway, Jr., WR (5-11, 150); Nick Chrisco, Jr., TE/HB (5-10, 205).

Key Newcomers: Donnell Williams, Fr., LB (6-0, 185).

Outlook: Draughn is 5-28 in the last three years, including 1-10 in 2018. The Wildcats should be more competitive this season with 12 starters back, led by QB Braxton Cox (2,131 yards passing, eight touchdowns last year) and junior WR Denver Treadway. Draughn will need to put more points on the board to help what will be a younger defense that was hard hit by graduation.

EAST BURKE

Head Coach: Mark Buffamoyer (3rd year as East Burke head coach; 3-19 at East Burke).

2018 Record: 1-10 (0-6 in the Northwest Foothills’ 2A Conference).

2019 Conference: Northwest Foothills’ 2A Conference/2A.

Returning Starters: N/A

Returning Letterman: N/A

Key Returning Starters: Brett Childers, Sr., RB/DB (5-10, 170); Josh Moore, Sr., RB/DB (5-10, 180); Noah Rook, Jr., OL/DL (6-1, 270); Hunter Bostain, Sr., OL/DL (5-11, 255); Matthew Voe, Sr., OL/DL (5-10, 250); Austin Sellers, So., WR/DB (6-0, 165).

Key Newcomers: N/A.

Outlook: East Burke is 5-28 in the last three seasons, with only one winning season in the last eight years. The Cavaliers hopes to improve an offense that averaged only 15 points per game last season. East Burke needs consistent play from senior RBs Josh Moore (1,358 yards, 11 touchdowns rushing), Brett Childers and a veteran offense line to accomplish that goal.

FREEDOM

Head Coach: Luke Little (2nd year as Freedom head coach).

2018 Record: 9-3 (6-1 in the Northwestern 3A/4A conference (NW3A/4A)).

2019 Conference: NW3A/4A Conference/3A.

Returning Starters: 12 (7 offense; 5 defense).

Returning Letterman: 20

Key Returning Starters: Jayden Burchfield, Sr., QB (6-2, 205); Desmond Caldwell, Jr., WR (6-1, 180); Austin Lowery, Sr., OL (6-2, 245); Day Day Burgess, Sr., DB (5-11, 175); Day Day Rhoddy, Sr., DL (5-11, 240); Cam Silvers, Jr., LB (5-10, 200); Damien Dula, Jr., DB (5-10, 180).

Key Newcomers: Chase Young, Jr., RB/LB (5-10); Mekhi Spates, Jr. RB (5-10, 180).

Outlook: Freedom has the experience and talent to be even better than their 9-3 mark from a year ago. With a first-round playoff exit fresh on their minds, the Patriots return senior QB and reigning NW3A/4A conference player of the year Jayden Birchfield (Naval Academy commit, 2,821 yards passing, 27 touchdowns, 516 yards rushing last year). Birchfield will also benefit from a veteran offensive line and junior WR Desmond Caldwell (55 catches for 1,048 yards). The Freedom defense returns four all-conference performers -- DBs Day Day Burgess and Damien Dula, LB Cam Silvers and DL Day Day Rhoddy -- from a unit that gave up only 15 points per game last season.

PATTON

Head Coach: Jonathan Browning (2nd year as Patton head coach).

2018 Record: 6-6 (4-2 in the Northwest Foothills’ 2A Conference).

2019 Conference: NW Foothills’ 2A Conference/2A.

Returning Starters: 12

Returning Letterman: 23

Key Returning Starters: Weston Fleming, Sr, QB (5-11, 175); Bryson Ratliff, Sr., FB/LB (6-0, 195); Bryston Holsclaw, Sr., TE/DE (6-5, 215); Rico Barrino, Sr., TE/DT (6-1/294); Jackson Vance, Sr., RB (5-10, 175); Ben Varsamis, Sr., LB (6-2, 205); Alex Flores, Sr., LB/RB (5-10, 195).

Key Newcomers: Max Short, Jr., RB (5-11, 185); Kalen Byrd, Jr., LB (6-1, 175); Easton Wilkins, Jr., OL/DL (6-2, 345).

Outlook: The Panthers have averaged eight wins per season over the last three years and return 12 starters. Patton will look to seniors in QB Weston Fleming and FB Bryson Ratliff (766 yards rushing last year) on offense. Meanwhile, six of the front eight return on defense, led by all-conference seniors DT Rico Barrino (6-1, 294) and LB Alex Flores (57 tackles). Patton has the experience on both sides of the ball to finish in the top half of the Northwest Foothills’ 2A conference standings and return to the playoffs a fifth straight season.

Conference Predictions

Northwestern 3A/4A

  1. Watauga; 2 (tie). Alexander Central; 2 (tie). Freedom; 4. Hickory; 5. St. Stephens; 6. South Caldwell; 7. McDowell.

Northwestern Foothills’ 2A

  1. Hibriten; 2. Fred T. Foard; 3. West Iredell; 4. Patton; 5. Bunker Hill; 6. Draughn; 7. East Burke; 8. West Caldwell.
  Comments