Blue Valley North High School senior receiver Cameron Burt is enjoying a breakout year for the 6A defending champion Mustangs.
The 6-foot-4, 190-pound, Burt, has 30 receptions for 564 yards and nine touchdowns so far in the first five weeks of the season. He’s also had to do that with two quarterbacks while the Mustang’s have battled through the injury of senior All-American candidate and Wisconsin quarterback commit Graham Mertz. Freshman Henry Martin certainly stepped up in the time Mertz was out and shined.
“Henry stepped up huge when Graham went down. Graham got hurt in the first quarter of week three and we didn’t know if we should put him in until after half. We had a very rough quarter and needed a spark. He was nervous at first but myself and a couple other guys tried to keep him calm and on his feet. He came out of half and threw for 3 touchdowns which had almost led us to a comeback against Pittsburg. He then started the game against Blue Valley West and threw for 5 touchdowns and close to 400 yards. He led us to a 52-point victory. It gives the whole team a sense of security knowing if something else were to happen we have a guy who has been battle tested we can put in.” Burt said.
Now Mertz is back after injury and the Mustangs seem to have gotten back to their last year form of being a championship contender as they knocked off Mill Valley, 41-16, last Friday. It avenged a 35-30 loss from last year to the Jaguars. Mertz threw for 232 yards and four touchdowns hitting Burt for two of those touchdown passes in his first game back since week three.
“Playing with Graham is very reassuring. I don’t know what it would be like without him on the field with me. Ever since I started playing football in second grade he has been my quarterback. We have gone to the same school since Kindergarten and have grown up together. This translates onto the football field.” Burt said.
The Mertz and Burt connection will certainly be something to look or the rest of 2018 and if Martin is needed again it’s nice to know North has that quality of a back-up for a freshman.
“Cameron has deserved all the credit he is starting to get this year. He is going to be a baller in college, I have no doubt.” Mertz said.
Burt is also an outstanding student with a 3.94 GPA. His favorite subject is math. He is also a three sport athlete playing baseball and basketball in addition to football in the fall. Burt is looking at playing football at the next level and has already recieved several offers at the Division II level.
While a lot of people have dropped off on North because of their 2-3 record, lets do remember they had four losses and won a state title over Derby one year ago. North was also 2-3 this time last year. When you play in the states best league with contenders in 4A, 5A, 6A, not every team can win every game. North’s losses have come to Bishop Miege (#1 in 4A), 6A contender Blue Valley, and Pittsburg (#3 in 4A).
North, led by head coach Andy Sims, did lose 34 seniors off last year’s title squad including stars like receiver/end Dylan Freberg, running back Grant Hamel and receiver Nigel Roberts but its guys like Burt and Amari Pesek-Hickson that have stepped up big in 2018 giving Mertz options to throw to. Hickson has 271 rushing yards and 384 receiving yards for the Mustangs. Shawn Hendershot, Erik Roberts, and Danny Nam also have over 100 yards receiving this season. Safety Kendall Hargens leads the defensive unit for the Mustangs.
BVN will be back in action tomorrow at 5 pm at BVDAC with a matchup of EKL opponent Blue Valley Southwest. It wasn't long ago North football was a team that you could just count on beating until the arrival of Sims and now a state title. We caught up with the senior breakout receiver below in the latest Q&A edition of Faces in Kansas.
Q&A w/ Burt
How did you get involved in football?
I first started playing Football when I was in second grade. I had been involved in Baseball and Basketball since kindergarten and wanted to give it a try.
What are your goals this season?
My goals for this season are similar to what they have been my whole career. I want to be the best. I want to win another State Championship. I want to be number one in receiving yards, receptions, and receiving touchdowns. Also I want to prove that I can compete at the highest level.
Do you guys have a shot to make a run this year?
Yes, just like last year we have had a rocky start with a tough schedule. The pieces are starting to come together and I have a good feeling we are going to click and ride a win streak like we had last year all the way to week 13.
What makes you such a force as a player?
I believe what makes me such an impact player is my Brain. Along with being a 6’4” receiver my knowledge of the offense is what makes me dangerous. I feel as if I know what all 11 guys on the field are doing on each play called. This allows me to predict with accuracy how to attack a defense and allows me to use my frame and ability to its potential.
What’s the atmosphere like to play football on Friday night for your school and town?
The atmosphere on Fridays under the lights at Blue Valley North is unmatched. The students fill the stands at every home game and there is a good amount at away games. They never fail to raise the energy level and pump the game up.
For anyone that hasn’t seen one of your games, why come to one?
Football Games at Blue Valley North are always a good time. There are tailgates before the game and people are there to support us even before we get to the stadium. The football is always fun to watch. We are known for our offense and scoring a lot of points and that is great for me individually because I love scoring points too! But every aspect of a game day at Blue Valley North is very professional and very entertaining.
Who are other key players on your team?
We graduated 34 seniors in the class of 2018 and have 4 returning starters so all of those guys including myself are crucial to the team this year. Our QB Graham Mertz is a key player, he always keeps us in check and knowing what needs to me done. Our left tackle Jack Stallard is a great mentor for a very young offensive line, he works hard and will always give 100% effort. Kendall Hargens at Safety is the leader of the defense this year. He is the only returning defensive starter and has done a great job working with the younger guys and our new defensive coordinator. Reid Spachman is a first year started that has really stepped up for us at defensive end. Reid is not the biggest but he has a motor that will outlast and outwork everyone when it comes game time.
Favorite thing about football?
My favorite thing about football is the release. When you are on the field whether it be in a Game or Practice there is nothing outside of football. When I’ve got my cleats on I don’t have to worry about what may be going on in my life. I can get rid of all stress and anxiety and just play ball.
Do you play any other sports, tell us about that, what other positions do you play?
I play Basketball and Baseball. I have played these 3 sports for my whole life. Balancing them has been difficult at times but I would never give any of them up before I have to. In Basketball I play center or power forward. In Baseball I play outfield and I excel at pitching. Football is what I put most of my effort and focus in.
What is it like to play for your coach?
Playing for Coach Sims is an opportunity most of us take for granted. I was guilty of this as well. He has coached at the colligate level and does a very good job. He not only coaches us to be better football players but understands the importance of becoming great people. We do many activities and help in different ways around our community and school. He sets us to a standard of excellence in every aspect of life and will not accept anything less.
What did you and the team do in the off-season to become better?
During the off season we do our Athletic Development Program which is built toward football but is open to anyone who would like to come. It is a summer full of workouts to increase strength and mental toughness. We also went to events like 7 on 7 tournaments and participated in a 7 on 7 league in Lees Summit. We go to team camps and try to do as many scrimmages as we can. All of this allows us to build chemistry with a new team and work out what we need to for the season.
What interest are you seeing at the next level and what are your plans?
I am very interested in playing at the next level. My recruitment has been steadily picking up recently. My goal and my plan is to play for a school where I have an opportunity through football or graduation I would not get otherwise. For example an Ivy League school. I would also like to play for a Division 1 school that I felt fits me.
Favorite thing to do when you aren’t playing sports?
When I am not on the court or the field I like to spend time with friends and family. With the sports that I play I don’t have an off season. I have football in the Fall, basketball in the Winter, baseball in the Spring, and all of them in the Summer. I use my free time to hang out with my family and friends.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In 10 years I see myself as a graduate of a good college with a job I enjoy doing. I would like to have a steady and good income and I would like to start a family.
Favorite subject in school, what type of student are you, GPA?
My favorite subject in school is Math. I have always had a natural gift for math and the concepts have been easy for me to grasp. I also like Physics. Physics was one of the hardest classes I’ve taken but I enjoyed being able to apply what I’ve learned to life and being able to see everything we talked about applied in the real world. I am a hardworking, dedicated student with a 3.94 GPA.
Who is your role model?
My role model is my Father. He works hard in everything he does no matter how small. He will go to the ends of the earth to please our family. He is the most dedicated and supporting person I have ever met.
Best place to eat in your town or the surrounding area?
The best place in Overland Park to eat is KC Joes. The food is fantastic, calorie packed, and close to my school.
One thing the average person wouldn’t know about you?
Most people know I am an athlete and the sports I excel at but a lot of people are shocked when they hear I enjoy doing puzzles and playing games involving problem solving.
What is it like playing for a QB like Graham Mertz?
Playing with Graham very reassuring. I don’t know what it would be like without him on the field with me. Ever since I started playing football in second grade he has been my Quarter Back. We have gone to the same school since Kindergarten and have grown up together. This translates onto the football field. I feel we have Chemistry that is very rare if not unmatched. He knows what I’m going to run and if I will shut down a route or not. We are always on the same page. I know what he is seeing and he knows what I’m seeing. Graham also has a great arm giving me many opportunities to make plays on balls. We have a great trust in each other. I know that he is going to throw me a good ball and he knows I am going to do whatever it takes to go up and snatch the ball out of the air.
How big did Henry Martin step up when Graham was injured?
Henry stepped up huge when Graham went down. Graham got hurt in the first quarter of week three and we didn’t know if we should put him in until after half. We had a very rough quarter and needed a spark. He was nervous at first but myself and a couple other guys tried to keep him calm and on his feet. He came out of half and threw for 3 touchdowns which had almost lead us to a comeback against Pittsburg. He then started the game against Blue Valley West and threw for 5 touchdowns and close to 400 yards. He led us to a 52 point victory. It gives the whole team a sense of security knowing if something else were to happen we have a guy who has been battle tested we can put in.
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