By R. Alan Richardson
Morgan County’s Andre Peterson has been named the winner of the prestigious Brandon Burlsworth Award for 2016. Their motto is “Doing it the Burls Way,” and is given to the player who exhibits the qualities of team above self and carries himself in a manner that epitomizes what a team player should look like. Their mission statement says: “Our Christian organization’s mission is to support the physical and spiritual needs of children, in particular those children who have limited opportunities. The foundation encourages developing positive values, strong faith lives and a life pattern that would exemplify Doing it the Burls Way.”
Burlsworth was a walk-on at the University of Arkansas who earned a scholarship in his freshman season and went on to earn All-SEC and first team All-American honors. He was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in 1999, but was tragically killed 10 days after the draft at the age of 22 while on his way home to attend church with his Mom. He had planned on helping underprivileged children. His family started the Brandon Burlsworth Foundation that fall in his memory. (Thanks to the Brandon Burlsworth Foundation website for this information).
Head Football Coach Bill Malone said about Andre, “Andre played fullback, defensive line, and linebacker for us for four years. He was a tireless worker in the weight room and his outlook was always positive and supportive. Andre was well-liked by his teammates so it was an easy choice for me to recognize him as the Burlsworth Award winner for our team.”
Peterson is a graduating senior who participated in football, basketball, and track. He was a two-year starter for the Dogs at linebacker. He plans on attending Kennesaw State University and major in physical therapy. Andre said that his interest in that field came from enduring a high school knee injury that required surgery during his junior year in a game against Oconee County. He is an A-B honor roll student who also works with the MCHS morning news crew. In 2015 he received the Academic All-State Team award as well.
He talked about his football experience, “It showed me brotherhood, the building of the man, and the building of an athlete. There’s no question that football helped mold me into the man I am today.” The 5-10 190 pounder says he may try to walk on at Kennesaw, but isn’t sure yet.
Peterson talked about the most influential coach in his career, “Our defensive coordinator, Coach (Allen) Crowley, was a man about his business on and off the field, but he was a guy who did what he said and said what he meant. However, he still had the trusting personality that made it easy to talk with him. He’s a humble and hard-nosed coach.”
“This award means that everything you do doesn’t go unnoticed,” said Peterson.
He wanted to thank his Mother, Johnnie Mae Peterson, with these words, “She has been the most influential person in my life. I just want to let her know that everything she’s done hasn’t gone unnoticed and that I love her.”
Ms. Peterson was quick to talk proudly about her son saying, “Andre is a marvelous, God-sent child. He is very special with a meek, low, and humble personality who would give you the shirt off his back. He has high expectations and high standards in his life; an angel. I’m proud to know that a single parent who is African-American can still raise a young African-American male who is so well-respected and so well thought of with no father figure in his life. When you have a Christian-based foundation and have faith in God there are no limits and Andre is a perfect example of that.”