With Jekeyvion Burnley at the helm, the Winona offense averaged almost 42 points a game through four games last season.
But then Burnley hurt his ankle against Water Valley. A few days later, he was told that he was done for the season and needed surgery.
However as his senior season approaches, Burnley seems primed for a big season.
“We are looking for big things of Jekeyvion this season,” Winona coach Joey Tompkins said. “He is looking fine so far this summer and getting better every week. You can tell that he’s not making all the throws all the times but I didn’t expect him to either. He went out the fourth week of the season and couldn’t do anything until the spring. You expect him to be a little rusty. We need him to get some confidence early on this season. Once he gets some confidence, he’s a difference maker.”
While he wasn’t on the field long last year, Burnley was electric when he was on the field. Burnley was 51-of-71 passing for 6-4 yards and seven TDs while rushing for 197 yards and eight TDs, giving him 15 touchdowns in less than four full games.
“I thought he played really well in the four games he was in last year,” Tompkins said. “We averaged a bunch of points when he was the quarterback. He can play the position. He’s just got to get some more reps and more time on the field. It really hurt him missing half of the season last year.”
Tompkins said he held back with Burnley last year, afraid of exactly what happened.
“We didn’t want to run him that much last year simply because we didn’t have a backup,” Tompkins said. “So if you look at his rushes, he probably led the state in touchdowns per carry. Every time he ran it, it seems like it was a touchdown because when we got inside the 10, everybody on defense was looking at No. 7 (Deriaun Townsend) and he would walk into the end zone.”
But with Chris Richardson now a seasoned backup, Tompkins said he will feel freer calling Burnley’s number.
“He is going to be turned wide open as far as running the football this season,” Tompkins said. “We are going to run him more this year. We now have a sophomore quarterback with half a year of experience. And anytime you can run your quarterback, you are plus one. We feel like we have four or five kids that we can get the ball to that you have to account for. He is going to be the guy this season.”
Burnley said his summer has been going well and feels like he is getting better every week.
“I think my throwing is getting better,” Burnley said. “I think we have been doing pretty well in 7-on-7 this summer. I think the receivers are getting better every day. And I think our defense is getting better every day. I have my off days but everybody has their off days.”
When it comes to playing at the next level, Burnley has plenty going for him, even though he has had very little interest so far. Burnley stands at 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds. And Burnley’s talents don’t reside solely on the athletic fields. He’s also an honor-roll student and made a 22 on the ACT.
“Last year, we had a lot of interest from Mississippi College before he got hurt,” Tompkins said. “He’s a smart kid so he can be that Division II or Division III guy. I think if he went to a Mississippi College or Belhaven, he would be a quarterback. They are going to get his arm a lot stronger and work on his quickness. I think he still has some physical maturing to do. I don’t think he has really grown into his frame yet.”