Young speedster found success early at North

Mitchell Burton appeared destined for greatness from the early stages of his high school career.

Burton burst onto the track and field scene as a freshman when he won the long jump to help Columbus North edge out Center Grove for the team title in the North Sectional. The next fall, he won the first of his three team-MVP honors in football for the Bull Dogs.

Now, the Columbus North senior, who is headed to Miami (Ohio) to play football, is the first The Republic Male Athlete of the Year. A committee of Republic editors, writers and executives selected the Male Athlete of the Year Award winner, which was announced Wednesday night at The Republic’s Bartholomew County Athlete of the Year Gala at The Commons.

“It felt awesome,” Burton said. “I had no idea that I’d win it tonight, and it just feels good.”

Burton began his sophomore football season as North’s starting safety. But needing a lift in the offensive backfield, coach Tim Bless put him at running back for the regular-season finale. Burton responded by running for 195 yards in an upset win against Southport.

The next week, Burton ran for more than 200 yards in a first-round sectional victory at Jeffersonville. He finished with better than 500 yards rushing in his three starts on offense during his sophomore year.

As a junior, Burton ran for 1,757 yards and a school record-tying 22 touchdowns to lead the Bull Dogs to their first winning season in four years. He was named The Republic Football Offensive Player of the Year.

Last fall, the 6-foot-3, 190-pound Burton capped his football career by running for 1,698 yards and another 22 touchdowns. He also had two touchdown catches and one score on a kickoff return. He was named to the Associated Press Class 6A All-State team and the Indiana Football Coaches Association 6A Senior All-State Squad.

Burton finished his career second on the school’s all-time rushing list.

“I’d like to thank the coaches,” Burton said. “They definitely taught me a lot and helped me become what I am today. It’s going to be a great time (at Miami), and I can’t wait to get out there and start playing college football.”

In track, Burton was a two-time sectional champion and two-time runner-up in the long jump. He finished 12th at state as a sophomore, fifth as a junior and eighth at Friday’s Boys Track and Field State Finals.

Burton also was a regional qualifier in the 200 meters as a sophomore and a state qualifier in the 100 as a junior and senior. He also anchored the 4×100 relay team that made it to state this season.

That 4×100 relay team won a sectional title, setting the school record at 42.59 seconds in the process. Burton calls that his most memorable athletic moment in his high school athletics career.

“I definitely had a great four years,” Burton said. “The coaches helped me out a lot, and it was just a fun four years. I have football friends and track friends, as well, so it was pretty memorable.”

Mitchell Burton

School: Columbus North

Year: Senior

Parents: Steve and Rhonda Burton

Sports: Football, track and field

Accomplishments:

  • Three-time team MVP in football
  • School’s No. 2 all-time leading rusher
  • The Republic Offensive Player of the Year as a junior
  • Associated Press Class 6A All-State and Indiana Football Coaches Association 6A Senior All-State selection as a senior
  • Three-time state qualifier in track
  • Finished fifth as a junior and eighth as a senior in the long jump
  • Member of school record-setting and sectional champion 4×100-meter relay team.

Future plans: To play football at Miami (Ohio) and major in business

Author photo
Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at tschultz@therepublic.com or 812-379-5628.