For the second time in the 40 for 40 series, a set of brothers have made the list. While the first selection involved Jason and Josh Nicewarner and saw them playing different positions on both sides of the ball, the second set of brothers involved making a name for themselves along the offensive line and as linebackers.
Tim Burkett, a member of the 1984 Bridgeport High School team, joins his brother Steve on the list. Steve was chosen earlier as the number #34 selection. And much like his older brother Steve who was described very succinctly by coach Wayne Jamison as “the perfect blocker,” the veteran of the BHS sidelines was very direct and to the point when he talked about the guy that came a dozen years later to the Tribe’s football roster as a senior.
“He was definitely one of the better players on that (1984) team. He was a tall kid, but he was a good linemen. Really, the best thing to say about him is that he did a lot of things and he did them all well,” Jamison said of the #18 selection in the 40 for 40 Series presented
by The Prescription Shop. “He was just good all the way around on the football field.”
And the 1984 team was good all-the-way around the football field. The team managed to finish the year with a 9-3 record after two of the most subpar seasons of Wayne Jamison’s 27 years as the team’s head coach. Prior to the season in which Burkett helped lead an amazing turnaround, Bridgeport had back-to-back 5-5 seasons.
In that ’84 season, things again started to look as if a .500 season may be in the cards. The club dropped a 20-6 decision to North Marion and a 13-7 contest to East Fairmont and stood at 2-2 four games into the campaign. Then, the team won the remaining six games of the regular season and the first game of the playoffs.
During that run, the Indians were more than just impressive. The Tribe was almost perfect. In five of the six remaining regular season games, Bridgeport’s defense posted a shutout and allowed just seven points in an 8-7 slugfest win against Fairmont Senior. The team’s offense also averaged 26.8 points per game during the same stretch.
A big reason for that was the play of Burkett and a linebacking group that may have the unprecedented distinction of Big 10 dominance that’s never been achieved in the past 40 years. Although it’s not 100 percent certain, the group of Burkett, Mark Dudley and Derek Salfia may be the only trio of linebackers to ever lock down all three of the Big 10 Conference’s first team linebacker spots on the annual postseason honor roll.
“There have been some linebacking groups that have come along in the last 40 years, but that group is certainly in the argument to be
among the best,” an analyst with the 40 for 40 selection process said. Burkett served as the middle linebacker of that threesome, which for the Indians, is perhaps the most important position in their defensive scheme – both today, back in the 1980s when Burkett played and even before that. He was just all business when he got out on the field; just like his brother was when he played.”
While Burkett was a head turner on defense, he was the anchor of the offense and, in particular, the Indians’ offensive line. Burkett played tackle for the team and managed to help spearhead a pretty impressive running game.
“He had great speed for his size,” the analyst said. “I really thought this kid had Division I talent, and I haven’t and won’t be saying that about a lot of players on this list, but I really believed that he had the type of frame that could have easily handled extra weight and he would have been a very good player at the next level.
“He had the tools that make you successful in high school and the type of skills that would have translated well onto the college level,” the analyst continued. “He was such a heady player and was extremely quick for an offensive lineman.”
Of course, any discussion of the 1984 season ends with the infamous 7-6 setback to Grafton in the playoffs. On that cold, wet and
muddy November day, the Indians saw not one, but two efforts to cross the goal line snuffed out. A second quarter one-yard surge by Shawn Marshall was ruled short by the officials, while a third quarter goal line drive started by a Marshall 86-yard kickoff return ended at the one inch line as two Dave Ward runs were ruled short.
“I’m absolutely positive that I crossed the goal line,” Ward said in the 1985 edition of the Indian Yearbook Ki-Cu-Wa.
Burkett’s play on both sides of the football earned him multiple postseason accolades. He was named to the Class AA All State first team, while being named the captain of the All-Monon Valley defensive unit first team. He was also honored with a first team selection to the All-Harrison County offensive squad.
Editor's Note: Top and middle photos show Burkett doing one of the things that he did best - getting to the ball carrier. In these photos, Burkett is making plays in the infamous 7-6 setback to Grafton in the Class AA playoffs. Bottom photo, Coach Wayne Jamison, left, and Assistant Coach Richard Iaquinta, second from left, present Burkett with the "Ricky Smith Award," which was given in honor of a deceased BHS student and awarded for the student that exemplified Smith's qualities. Accepting the award is Burkett's mother Judy. The photos in this article are courtesy of the Bridgeport High School journalism department and teacher Mrs. Alice Rowe. Connect-Bridgeport would like to thank Mrs. Rowe for her cooperation in assisting with the 40 for 40 series and providing archives necessary to move the project forward.
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