By: Jimmy Phillips
FRANKLIN - Chase Burton is now in his third year as the starting quarterback for the Franklin Grizzlies and he will close out his career as one of the most prolific passers in the history of the program. Burton is no stranger to accolades and is the reigning two-time HCAC Most Valuable Player after leading Division III in passing touchdowns with 42 in 2016.
But when he originally embarked on a playing career after high school, Burton was more focused on fooling opposing hitters instead of secondaries.
Burton's path to Franklin was different than most of his fellow seniors. A star athlete in high school, Burton pulled double duty as both the starting quarterback and the ace pitcher for the for the Corydon Central Panthers.
During the recruiting process, he found himself being looked at for baseball more than he was for football. Burton had his choices of bigger schools to pick from, before ultimately deciding to take a scholarship to pitch for the Bellarmine Knights in Louisville, Kentucky.
During his freshman campaign, a bone spur in his throwing elbow kept him in the dugout more than he liked. With the injury and innings limited on a stacked Bellarmine pitching staff, Burton began to consider football again and that's when the Grizzlies came calling.
"One of my best friends that I grew up with, Justin Yates, was at Franklin and he was trying to get me to come and play," Burton said. "Then-coach (Matt) Theobald reached out and said they still wanted me to come play. I felt like I still had more in the tank and a chance to keep living out one of my passions."
Burton believed that it was the right choice to transfer at the time. "Waiting a year after high school to come play was the best decision I made. I got to learn under Grant Welp when he was a starter then under Jonny West while he was coaching. By the time my number was called, I was ready to play. It was the perfect situation and fit for me."
Although he will sheepishly admit he was a better baseball player, Burton's lifetime spent around the game of football has led him to unprecedented success on the gridiron. His dad was a coach for his varsity team along with being his quarterback coach all four years of high school. Burton also looked up to his older brother, who was also a quarterback. With his love and passion for the game, he isn't regretting his decision to give up baseball for the game that is in his blood.
He has spent the last two seasons turning that passion into success on the field. D3football.com named Burton as a Second Team All-American and Hero Sports dubbed him their First Team Preseason All-American selection at quarterback. Despite racking up the accolades, Burton does not let that get in the way of his mindset for the upcoming year as he is focused on working with a historically successful group of seniors to close out their playing careers on a high note.
"There's still a lot to prove out there so I don't try and change anything I'm doing," says Burton. "I just try and go out there and treat it like any other practice or game. Playing with these 30 seniors and being a part of the largest senior class in Franklin football history is pretty cool."
Once Burton's year is over he is hoping to stay with football. "I want to play football for as long as I can," says Burton. "I know this game doesn't last forever so I don't want to look back at 35 or 40 and wish I would've kept playing when I still had a chance to."