Burtch banks on freshman to help varsity team


Roy Nitzan

Whether it’s in a game or a practice, freshman Jordan Eubanks doesn’t let his age hinder his performance. “It’s fun and it allows me to get away from the problems,” Eubanks said. “I mean I’m their size and I’m good so we don’t really have anything going on between us except age so I just fit in.”

Jordan Eubanks will take the field Friday night at Toyota Stadium as the Redhawks battle Frisco High School on Senior Night. But while most of the guys on the field are 16, 17 or even 18-years-old, Eubanks is just 14, making him an anomaly on the varsity football team as for the just fifth time in 27 years, head football coach Chris Burtch wasn’t hesitant to put a freshman on varsity because of his age.

Although younger than most of the other players on the field, freshman Jordan Eubanks, seen above making a tackle against Independence, has the confidence of
his teammates and head coach Chris Burtch.
“He kind of understood the game at a little bit of a higher level just athletically and physically could perform better,” Burtch said.

“I don’t want to put somebody in a position where I don’t think they can be successful so generally freshman aren’t able to do that,” Burtch said. “When I say successful I mean are they physically going to be safe, are they emotionally going to be safe and then can they contribute and make a positive contribution to the team. I really don’t care if it’s a freshman, a sophomore, a junior, or a senior. My job as a coach is to build young men of character and integrity and honor and try to win football games so I’m going to put those guys on the field that I think can best do those things.”

As a 6’3” and 180 lbs. safety, Eubanks has the size, but he also has the experience, starting

football in the third grade.

“It means a lot to me it’s my first sport that I started playing,” Eubanks said. “It’s fun and it allows me to get away from the problems. I mean I’m their size and I’m good so we don’t really have anything going on between us except age so I just fit in.”

For Burtch, age wasn’t much of a factor as Eubanks has other attributes that outweighed his age.

“God given ability,” Burtch said. “Pretty athletic, big for his size, good speed and agility. He’s lacking a little bit in physical strength but that’s because he’s 14 or 15 years old while everybody else is 17, 18 years old. He kind of understood the game at a little bit of a higher level just athletically and physically could perform better. That’s been his biggest area of improvement, it’s just understanding the game.”

Despite being the youngest player on the varsity team, teammates say Eubanks was quick to fit in with the team.

“Playing with Jordan has definitely been a different experience,” senior Scott Ruliffson. “I’ve never played with a freshman while I was not a freshman. But I don’t think age is really a factor in that you can build chemistry and bonds with anyone if you’re around them for this amount of time. I love Jordan and I think he’s a great player and I’m glad to have him behind me.”

His age may not be that of most varsity players, but Eubanks is eager to enhance his skills.

Roy Nitzan
Looking over senior wide receiver Jordan Jones, Eubanks stands 6’3″, and while he has the physical size of a varsity player, at 14-years-old, Eubanks has the age of most players on the school’s freshmen team.

“Probably the best thing about Jordan and his transition is he’s naturally a quiet kid in groups,” Burtch said. “He’s done a great job of listening to seniors and listening to his coaches of trying to take things in being very coachable and being very humble and is willing to learn and ask questions and even get in trouble sometimes and try to improve.”

Sitting with a 1-7 record heading into Friday’s game, Eubanks is one of the bright spots on this year’s team with upperclassmen expecting his growth to continue.

“Jordan is a lot more mature than all the other freshman and I think he really has a drive and he’s motivated to be great and get our team to where we all want to be which is playoffs,” Ruliffson said. “I think he is very capable of being a very strong and secure player on the defensive side of the ball. I wouldn’t be surprised if he played both sides next year because he really is a great athlete.”

Eubanks has three more years of varsity football after the 2017 season ends next week, and while his ultimate goal is a Division 1 scholarship to Florida State, there’s something he would like to see the Redhawks do first.

“It means a lot to me it shows all the work I that I put in during the off season paid off,” Eubanks said. “I just trained and worked on my size, my speed, my quickness strength. It’s tough sometimes just because upperclassmen know more than me but it’s fun. I know I can play with them and I’m good. I’m trying to win state. We all just have to come together as one and just play hard.”