Elijah Burton will have another reason to stand tall the next time he gets together with extended family.

Elijah Burton will have another reason to stand tall the next time he gets together with extended family.

During the third quarter of the Northland High School football team's season-opening 38-24 victory over Independence on Aug. 26, Burton showed his propensity for being in the right place at the right time.

After teammate Taevon Ransom jumped on a fumble but couldn't hang on, the 5-foot-10, 185-pound Burton picked up the ball from his spot at strong safety and ran for a 58-yard touchdown to increase the Vikings' lead to 25-8.

"It was like lightning to the game," Burton said.

Burton, a senior, has two first cousins who are playing for central Ohio teams in Harvest Prep junior Isaiah Mullens, a 6-6, 225-pound defensive lineman who has five Division I scholarship offers, and Westerville North sophomore Jeremiah Burton, a 6-1, 290-pound defensive lineman.

"One of my cousins is at Westerville North and I have another cousin who is at Harvest Prep," Burton said. "We usually have family cookouts and we talk about (football). These past couple years, (Northland) has scrimmaged Harvest Prep, so I've got to scrimmage against (Mullens). Actually, those two were my little cousins."

Burton got his first varsity start in week 3 of his sophomore season, and the next week he returned a fumble 47 yards for the Vikings' first score as they rallied from a 14-0 deficit to beat Whitehall 21-14.

Burton also is a key running back and had more than 50 yards rushing against Independence.

Northland played Whitehall on Sept. 2 and will look for its second win in as many years over Eastmoor Academy when it visits the Warriors on Friday, Sept. 9.

"Since the beginning of when he came to play for us, he had a scoop and score (against Whitehall) his sophomore year and helped us win that game," Vikings coach Kevin Tooson said. "He has a tendency to make big plays."

Elijah Burton was introduced to the sport by his father, James Burton, a 1985 Brookhaven graduate who played for the Bearcats.

"He's a big influence on me and was at the game (against Independence)," Elijah said.

According to Tooson, Elijah is "constantly reminded" that the Burton name "carries weight and prestige," and that he tries to live up to that.

Burton has gotten it done in the classroom as well.

As part of Northland's STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) program, he helped the Vikings win a local competition and finish third at a national competition in Las Vegas this summer.

"We got to do a solar car race," Burton said. "We did well. We came in third place, but they gave us the 'Best Team' award, I guess because of how hard we were working to try to get our car to work. I got to see different things you have to do to be a better leader and a better teammate."

South football team out to build on win

It took until week 7 of the regular season for the South football team to celebrate a victory last season, and there have been times in recent seasons when that experience never came at all.

The Bulldogs, who haven't posted a winning record since going 6-4 in 2006, endured winless seasons in 2008 and 2011.

With those numbers in mind, opening the season with a 41-8 victory at East on Aug. 26 was like a breath of fresh air to second-year coach Grady Parks and his program.

"I'm glad for the kids," said Parks, whose team finished 1-9 last season. "Being that it's my second year over there, and coming in with the mindset that these kids deserve opportunities to be coached up, we're trying to teach them that they don't have to be the doormat."

A year ago, the Bulldogs started a slew of underclassmen, led by then-junior Dezujwann Robinson, who was named first-team all-City League-South Division after recording 125 tackles as a defensive back. Also the starting quarterback, he rushed seven times for 78 yards and two touchdowns and was 2-for-5 passing for 52 yards and one score against the Tigers.

Back after making second-team all-league last year are seniors Keiandre Banks-Petty (OL/LB), Lamont Broomfield (OL/DL) and Ahmad Holloway (OL/DL).

The Bulldogs, who played Groveport on Sept. 2, play host to Linden-McKinley on Friday, Sept. 9.

The Panthers opened with a 27-6 loss to Briggs on Aug. 26 and played Columbus Academy on Sept. 2.

"It was small victories," Parks said. "We knew we had to play a lot of young guys by default (last season) and they gained experience, and they came back eager. We know we still have a long way to go."

Other non-league games between City League teams scheduled for Friday, Sept. 9, are West at East, Walnut Ridge at Beechcroft and Mifflin at Independence.

That same night, Africentric plays at Lockland, Briggs plays host to Franklin Heights and Marion-Franklin plays host to Hartley.

Cougars, Scots prep for football matchup

The Beechcroft football team plays its second consecutive non-league game against a City school this week when it plays host to Walnut Ridge.

The Cougars were 1-0 before playing Marion-Franklin and the Scots were 1-0 before facing Watkins Memorial in games played Sept. 2.

On Aug. 26, Beechcroft survived a defensive battle to beat Akron Buchtel 13-7. Aarin Smoot-Baker finished with 1.5 sacks and three quarterback pressures and was "a disruptive force all night," according to coach Trevor White.

Others who impressed White during the Cougars' opener were tight end and defensive lineman Tavion Bryant and two-way linemen Deonteze Newsome and Elonzo Reynolds.

The game against Buchtel was a matchup that White believes was good preparation for his team's back-to-back matchups against Marion-Franklin and Walnut Ridge, both of which shared the City-South title last season with Eastmoor.

"They're both very solid football programs," White said. "It's going to take a little bit better of a performance than what we had against Buchtel."

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