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Jackson Newspapers - Ripley, WV
  • Devil of a Player: Burgess Excels in All Fields for Ravenswood

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  • If you could encapsulate Ravenswood High star Heath Burgess in one word—impossible, when you consider his success both athletically and academically—it would have to be: leader.  Burgess, a senior, stars for the Ravenswood Red Devils all year round, as the quarterback of the football team, point guard on the basketball team, and currently, as a pitcher and second basemen for the baseball team.  All that time spent on the gridiron, in the gym, and on the diamond begs the question: what does he like to do with his spare time?
    “There’s not really much spare time,” Burgess said during a break at baseball practice recently, “Other than that, I just try to relax as much as I can.”
    Opponents of the Red Devils certainly wish Burgess would take some time to relax against them.
    While starting at quarterback for the Devils last season, Burgess led them to a 6-5 record, a LKC championship and the AA playoffs, where they fell in the first round to the Bluefield Beavers.  He was a true dual threat, utilizing both his arm and his legs to chew up yardage and keep defenses off balance. He rushed 71 times for 333 yards and completed 75 of 155 passes (48%) for 1,112 yards and 9 touchdowns.  He also excelled on the defensive side of the ball, where he was named first team all conference as a utility player on defense, finishing the season with 43 tackles, two interceptions, and eight pass break-ups.  
    As the point guard for the Runnin’ Red Devils, Burgess ran the offense and averaged 6.6 points per game, 4.2 rebounds per game, 3.9 assists per game, and 2.7 steals per game.
     
    Right now, Burgess is leading the Red Devil baseball team.  He has a 5-0 record on the mound, with an ERA of 1.67, a WHIP of 1.62, and 18 strikeouts.  When he isn’t striking batters out on the mound, he is stellar defensively at second base.  At the plate, his batting average is .432, slugging .538, on base percentage .525, with combined OPS of 1.064.  He has amassed 24 hits, 12 RBIs, scored 19 runs, and has stolen 14 bases so far this season.
    Not only does playing all year round keep Burgess in shape, but it also helps him in other ways.
    “It keeps me in shape all year.  I don’t really need to run that much, because I’m already running a bunch,” Burgess said, “[Playing three sports] gives me more confidence and lets me know that I need to be a leader.”
    While his stats are impressive, it is that leadership and confidence that his coaches love the most.
    “Heath is a quiet leader,” said head baseball coach Wes Swain, “He’s kind of like a throwback player.  He plays whatever sport is in season, and he gives 100% in whatever sport he’s at.”
    Page 2 of 2 - The quiet leadership and confidence that Burgess possesses is evident when watching him practice.  He exudes the sort of calming influence over his teammates, which has led to a great deal of success for the Red Devils.  The baseball team is currently 10-5, and is playing at a high level right now, thanks in part to Burgess’ many talents.
    “He’s 5-0 for us on the mound right now, and does a good job of changing speeds and keeping guys off balance on the mound,” said Swain, “He’s also a tremendous base runner and possesses great speed.”
    When the topic of his play came up, Burgess was very modest, and was quick to credit his teammates for his success.
    “I just throw strikes, and my guys make plays for me.” Burgess said of his success on the mound this season.
    Coach Swain was a bit more effusive in his praise.
    “He leads by example,” Swain said, “He doesn’t get on other players and is really hard on himself, but he’s learned to channel that into making him a better player.”
    However, when the topic turned to where the Red Devil baseball team could end up this season, Burgess was quick to demonstrate the confidence that has made him into such a standout.
    “We have a real good chance of going to states this year,” Burgess said, “We’re starting to hit the ball and field better and getting more confidence.  We’ll be tough.”
    Clearly, the Red Devils are reaping the benefits of having a player like Burgess.  His leadership, confidence, and athletic ability have been everything that his coaches could ask for in a player and has led to a great deal of success for Ravenswood athletics.  But more than that, Burgess has shown that he’s the type of person that teammates, fans, and coaches can be proud of.
    “He is the type of kid that any parent would love to have as their kid,” Swain concluded, He’s honest, works hard, he does well in the classroom, and strives to excel at everything he does.”

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