Eddie Burgos’ transition to Seahawks’ backfield
By Kyle LoJacono
The Sunlake football team’s backfield was loaded last year.
Not only did the Seahawks (2-1) have three running backs reach at least 300 rushing yards, all of which signed to play in college, but that trio also complemented each other.
Jerome Samuels (536 yards, six touchdowns) was the powerful, bruising back who helped them close out games. Mike Lopez (300 yards, four touchdowns) had a knack for converting short-yardage situations and could play in the slot. Rashaud Daniels (478 yards, four scores) had the speed to break huge runs and could split out at wide receiver.
“We try to be a balanced offense between the run and the pass, but when all is said and done you still need to run the ball and run it with some physicality in order to play football,” said Sunlake coach Bill Browning.
Browning needed someone to help fill that gaping hole. So far, the answer has been 5-foot-11, 185-pound senior Eddie Burgos, who played wide receiver the last two years while on varsity.
“We had a need there, and of course he’s got excellent speed,” said Browning, who talked with Burgos about the move last spring. “He cleans and jerks 290 (pounds), so he’s extremely strong and explosive. We just thought he’d be able to work in the backfield, and we could use his physical attributes.”
Burgos didn’t need any convincing.
“I told coach Browning I could tote the mail,” Burgos said.
The backfield wasn’t completely new to Burgos.
He was a running back while attending Rushe Middle in seventh and eighth grade and said he prefers the position to wide receiver.
“The pounding and taking contact is quicker than at wide receiver,” Burgos said. “At wide receiver there isn’t much contact until you get the ball. … I guess I just like people trying to tackle me, and the chance to have that highlight moment, just the chance to make everyone open their eyes as wide as they can.”
Such highlights were almost squashed early.
Burgos started playing football at age 11 with the Tampa Bay Youth Football League (TBYFL) Town ‘N Country Packers.
“I had no intentions of playing football,” Burgos said. “My dad (Eddie) put that upon me. He said, ‘You’re playing football,’ and threw me out there. At first I didn’t like it and cried to my dad every day, typical little kid stuff. After awhile it just came to me, and I started loving the game.”
Burgos started playing defensive end and middle linebacker. He didn’t play offense at all until his family moved from Northdale to Central Pasco County.
Browning said he knew Burgos was fast enough to play the position. He captured Sunshine Athletic Conference (SAC) championships last year in the 100-meter (11.09 seconds) and with the Seahawks’ 100-meter relay team, but Sunlake’s coach said there is more to playing running back than pure speed.
“We had to make sure he could make a read and find a hole and make sure he wasn’t just a fast guy who could run outside,” Browning said. “He’s been running between the tackles extremely well; good second and third effort. … He’s been excellent, and I think he’s going to get nothing but better.”
And the production has been there.
Through the Seahawks first three games, Burgos has run for a team-high 374 yards on 40 carries, 9.35 per attempt, with four touchdowns. Entering this season he had a total of one carry for zero yards in his career.
Burgos was quick to point out that he isn’t the only reason he has more than 300 rushing yards in three games. He points to the five massive guys in front of him on every play.
“It’s all about the line,” Burgos said. “When the ball is snapped the line is the first ones to touch the ball, not me. It’s not I got the rushing yards; It’s my line got the yards. … Running behind them, I’m glad they’re on my team. They are fast and quick off the line. I love running behind them.”
Burgos said running backs coach Jimmy Bragg has been on him about the little things it takes to be a good ball carrier.
“Coach Bragg has been working with me on all the steps,” Burgos said. “He’s the one who’s been on me about how many steps I should take and how to move. He’s been pounding me for this. Everything with coach Bragg is so precise.”
Burgos is still seeing time at receiver, splitting about 50 percent of the time at slot and wide receiver and in the backfield. He had 22 catches for 369 yards and five scores last season and has already racked up 10 grabs for 95 yards and two touchdowns this year.
“Rashuad Daniels, he was kind of the guy I moved around last year in the offense and did some different things,” Browning said. “Eddie is doing that this year. Eddie can pop up at any one of about three or four different spots on offense.”
Senior quarterback Josh Zifer said that versatility makes Burgos dangerous even when he doesn’t have the ball.
“Teams try to line up to stop him, and we’ve got a lot of talent on our team like Ricardo Williams, Matt Watson, Brogan Ronske and Joe (Jean-Baptiste),” Zifer said. “They can catch too, so him playing running back helps spread out our offense.”
Burgos said he has received “strong interest” from Stony Brook University, a Division I program in New York. He said he wants to play in college and believes the ability to play several offensive positions will help accomplish that.
Burgos and Sunlake hosts district rival Mitchell Sept. 28 at 7:30 p.m.
–Stats as recorded to Maxpreps.com by coaches