Thursday, August 4, 2011

The 2011 Preseason Sweet 16 Football Poll: No. 12 Burns

NOTE: Each day, the Observer will unveil a team ranked in its Sweet 16 football poll. We continue today with No. 12 Burns. Friday (Aug. 5) around 3 p.m, the No. 12 team will be unveiled and each day at 3 p.m. a new team will follow.

By Ron Green Jr.
Darius Ramsey doesn’t do things halfway.
The senior running back at Burns High doesn’t just work at Subway in Gastonia. He’s a night-shift manager and has been for a few years, working 30 or more hours a week when it’s not football season.
"I can make you the best sandwich you’ve ever had," Ramsey said.
Ramsey has a 4.4 grade point average and a long-term goal of becoming a lawyer.
Just 5-feet, 8 inches tall and 175 pounds, Ramsey can bench press 300 pounds and squat more than 500 pounds, his coach Matt Beam said.
After fighting a fumbling problem as a sophomore, Ramsey committed himself to holding onto the football last season and he did it, handling more the 280 touches with only one drop, and that was on a shaky pitch.
For those reasons and more, Ramsey is at the heart of what could be a special season at Burns this fall.
"I see greatness," Ramsey said. "I want to be good and let it spill over to other people. I’m a senior now. You only get one last time."
Beam, who led the Bulldogs to an 11-2 record last season that ended with a triple-overtime playoff loss to Asheville, marvels at Ramsey.
"All coaches say this about players but I’ll say (Ramsey) is the most complete person, student, hard worker football player I’ve ever been around," Beam says. "He’s unbelievable."
Ramsey, Beam said, received a good citizenship award for Cleveland County students and he’s within reach of becoming the county’s all-time leading rusher.
But Ramsey is just one part of a balanced team.
Quarterback Brandon Littlejohn has passed for more than 5,000 yards and 73 touchdowns the past two seasons. Nose guard Tank Ramseur is a nightmare for opposing centers. Linebacker/running back Travond Ross is a force on both sides of the line.
"We were 1-10 when (Littlejohn) came on campus two years ago," Beam said. "Then he won the quarterback job."
After an 0-5 start in 2009, Ramsey became the starting running back -- and the Bulldogs were off and running.
"I told him the job was his and we won six straight," Beam said.
Last season, the Bulldogs lost their opener to Crest then reeled off 11 straight victories only to get eliminated by Asheville in the second round of the playoffs. Burns had beaten Asheville during the regular season.
"It stayed with me. It’s still with me," Ramsey said of the loss. "I cried for two weeks after that game. I almost can’t talk about it without getting teary-eyed. To have such a good season and to fall short, it was hard."
When Ramsey puts his mind to something, his focus rarely wavers. That’s what happened with his fumbling problem. When Beam pulled Ramsey aside in his sophomore season and told him he couldn’t continue to play him if he kept putting the ball on the ground.
"I was out there starry-eyed as a sophomore. I got thrown into the fire and fumbled twice in the playoffs," Ramsey said. "I dedicated myself after that. I got stronger so I could hold onto the ball. I said I can’t throw any more games away."
With one season remaining at Burns, Ramsey has a similar, singular focus.
"We have big state championship dreams," Ramsey said. "It’s going to be a long road but I have a good feeling."

Last year:
11-2, lost in second round of state playoffs.
What’s new: The secondary lost several players due to graduation and could start three sophomores this season.
Three to watch:
QB Brandon Littlejohn (5-11, 175) Sr.: Passed for 2,287 yards and 39 touchdowns last season.
RB Darius Ramsey (5-8, 175) Sr.: Averaged 6.83 yards per carry and is the Bulldogs’ dynamo.
NG Tank Ramseur (5-10, 285) Sr.: He creates a variety of problems for opponents with his presence along the line.
Bet you didn’t know: In 2008, the season before Matt Beam became head coach at Burns, the Bulldogs won just one game.
Preview analysis: There’s plenty of optimism around Lawndale where the Bulldogs have been on the fast track to prominence the last two years. Stocked with a blend of experience and talent, Burns has reason to think seriously about a state title.
Schedule: Aug. 19, Crest; Aug. 26, @ Kings Mountain; Sept. 2, Mooresville; Sept. 9, @ South Point; Sept. 16, Q-Foundation; Sept. 23, @ Freedom; Sept. 30, @ Chase; Oct. 7, East Rutherford; Oct. 14, Patton; Oct. 21, @ RS Central; Oct. 28, Shelby.

THE SWEET 16 (So far)
No. 11: ??? To be announced at 3 p.m. Friday (8/5) on and in Saturday's print editions
No. 12: Burns 3A
No. 13: Sun Valley 4A
No. 14: Independence 4A
No. 15: Lincolnton 2A
No. 16: Albemarle 1A


Anonymous said...

Mornic delivery of what amounts to local yocal frivilous information anyway. They never cease to amaze.
In the span of 16 days there will be 100,000 deaths in America, 10,000 in NC and 1000 in the entire Metro 50 mile circle who will miss out on the total final top 16.

Cut the childs play ...

Anonymous said...

Matt Beam is a quality guy. He deserves the success. Funny how hard work leads to that.