Charlie Burton spent four years of his childhood racing go-karts and micro sprints at the Bartholomew County 4-H Fairgrounds and around the state.

But when he turned 12, Burton found himself devoting a lot more time to baseball. And by that time, he had started playing football, as well.

Now a senior, Burton is a two-sport standout at Columbus East, and he might have his pick of which one he wants to play in college.

“My primary goal is baseball, but if I can play two sports at some school, I’ll definitely give it a shot,” Burton said.

Burton is looking to study business or accounting. The catcher has talked with baseball coaches from Earlham, IU-Kokomo, Centre (Kentucky), Transylvania (Kentucky) and Kalamazoo (Michigan).

But this fall, Burton’s primary focus is football. He’s a starting outside linebacker for the Olympians, who are off to a 2-1 start going into Friday’s game at Jennings County.

“He’s aggressive and has a nose for the ball,” East coach Bob Gaddis said. “We noticed that when he was a sophomore, and he got on the field for two or three different special teams, and he got a lot of reps to get better. Then last year, we played him in a couple of different spots, but he’s settled into outside linebacker now, and he’s been one of our most active players. He’s playing well, and he’s playing with a lot of confidence.”

Last year, Burton shared time at the Sam (strong-side) linebacker spot with Julian Greenwell. Greenwell has moved to safety, and Burton has moved to the Will (weak-side) linebacker spot.

Burton played a little at Will linebacker on the junior varsity team as a sophomore.

“It’s not much different (than Sam linebacker), other than you’re more free, rather than having a certain gap,” Burton said. “Anytime I see a pass, I’m supposed to drop out to the flat on most of our coverages. I blitz quite a bit — more than I did last year for sure.”

This season, Burton has two tackles for losses and a forced fumble. He also is among the Olympians’ leading tacklers.

Gaddis said he moved the 5-foot-9, 170-pound Burton from Sam to Will linebacker so he could bring him off the edge on blitzes a little more often.

“Sometimes in our scheme, that Will (line)backer, we use to blitz a lot, and he’s been doing a great job of it,” Gaddis said. “He’s a good enough athlete that we can put him in the flat, and he can match up if they’re putting a receiver in the slot.”

Burton helped East make a run to the Class 5A state finals last season. That has been one of his most memorable moments of his athletic career, along with beating Columbus North in baseball.

The Olympians lost to the Bull Dogs in football for the second consecutive year, but bounced back last week with a 44-6 win at Seymour.

“We kind of had shaky practices throughout the week, but we pretty much went full bore like we should,” Burton said.

Charlie Burton

Name: Charlie Burton

School: Columbus East

Year: Senior

Position: Outside linebacker

Height: 5-foot-9

Weight: 170

Sports: Football, baseball

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