At a young age, junior quarterback Chase Burton knew he wanted football to be a part of his life, but he never knew the impact it would make years later.
This season, Burton is a third-team preseason All-American by Football Gameplan, a football analysis website, ranking him as the third best quarterback in the country for Division III football.
Burton also earned the title of Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Offensive Most Valuable Player.
“It’s a great honor, but you know what’s really nice about all those individual honors is that it reflects how good our team is and how many good players we have on offense and defense,” Burton said. “The success Franklin has is definitely not because of me. It’s because of all of the guys who step on the field that wear the blue and gold on the weekends.”
For the last two years, at this time, the team has been 0-2 in regular non-conference play.
This year, the Grizzlies are 1-1 and will start their quest for a Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference championship tomorrow as they play Defiance away at 1:30 p.m.
“To get that first win was huge, but that’s over now,” Burton said, referencing the team’s comeback against Kentucky’s St. Thomas Moore, winning 43-39.
As the football program looks ahead to the future of the season, team members said they see more than just “home” and “away.”
They take their slated schedule and split it into seasons.
“The first few games are preseason,” Burton said. “Then we go into conference play and that’s the real season where we have to play our best football. We can’t have any slip-ups. We have to prepare and execute through the week and on Saturdays. Then if we do that, hopefully, we will be able to play in the postseason.”
The kick-off years
Since Burton first picked up a football 15 years ago, he said he’s never thought of giving up on the sport.
Burton started his love of football when he was in kindergarten as an after school activity.
“All of my friends played and it was just something we could do after school together to just keep a close bond and it just continued all the way up to high school,” Burton said. “When we all got to high school we kind of realized that we might have talents to go play after [high school].”
But as Burton grew as a player and a person, his role model and favorite player of the game was there for every kickoff and play — his dad.
“Whenever I was growing up, I always looked up to my dad because he was my coach and he coached me all the way into high school,” said Burton, an alum of Corydon Central.
Burton’s dad played high school football and coached high school football at Corydon’s rival: North Harrison.
But when it came for him to coach his son, he did not play favorites.
“Just because I was his son, he would not play me first or he would not give me a special treatment and I was better off for that, but he always put me in the right situations to make plays and be successful on the field,” Burton said.
But just like any parent, Burton’s father made sure his son was doing what he needed to be doing off the field.
“If I was not making the grades, then he wouldn’t let me play,” Burton said. “That was not necessarily a requirement for youth football.”
Even though his father was his coach, the pair developed a strong bond as a coach and player, but more importantly as a father and son.
“He was just someone that always had my back and always looked out for me,” Burton said.
Saturdays at Faught Stadium
As a reserve quarterback his freshman year, Burton saw major playing time when he went in for six games.
During that season, Burton completed four of six passes.
Last year, Burton started all 11 games and helped lead the team to the NCAA Division III playoffs.
He threw for a career-high 474 yards against Defiance and looks forward to tomorrow’s match up.
In the team’s 2015 game against Earlham, Burton completed all 16 passes with six touchdowns.
He ended the 2015 season totaling 3,850 passing yards with 36 touchdowns.
“I’ve been to a lot of DIII, DII and DI tailgates and the atmosphere we have at Franklin is — I mean I absolutely get butterflies every weekend because of the support we get.”
Seeing the college community come together to form tailgates and pack Faught Stadium, and run to players at the end of the games with words of encouragement and pride, “just means a lot to us and the guys,” Burton said.