Head coach: Steve Summers (Fifth year)
Classification: GHSA Region 3A-AAA
2005 record: 7-3
Four-year record (since 2002): 24-17
Last playoff appearance: 2002
Returning starters: 5 offense, 3 defense
Key Bears: Senior QB Mike Simpson (5-8, 150); Senior WR Dustin Golden (5-10, 175); Senior WR/OLB Brian Bell (6-1, 180); Senior SS Kenderick Bonner (5-11, 170); Junior OLB/TE Cornelius Washington (6-5, 220).
Offensive attack: Burke's going to let Simpson steer its Wing-T, and he'll go to Bell and Golden for one big play per half at receiver. Washington's 4.5 speed in the 40-yard dash will scare the headsets off defensive coordinators this year if he can return from a preseason arm injury. A big year out of senior RB Julius Patterson (6-3, 225) would catapult Burke into the region title race. Senior OL Terrance Dukes (5-10, 230) is the best returning lineman.
Defensive keys: Bonner's experience should steady this group. Senior LB Damien Batten (6-2, 205) needs to continue the Bears' trend of strong linebacker play. Replacing Washington early in the season will be a key. He's a possibility to return later this fall from breaking both the bones in his left forearm.
Thin at: Defensive line
Big game: At Liberty County, Oct. 13
Different this year: This schedule isn't as formidable. There's no Lincoln County or Thomson to worry about. The toughest game might be Jefferson County, a nonregion contest.
Could go bad if: The team cannot find a steady runner to move the chains and Simpson is forced to throw more than he should.
Great year if: Burke County makes a clutch field goal to win a region title or score a playoff berth. This has been the best area team to miss the playoffs each of the past two years.
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