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This star knows all the moves

The Quakers' versatile Burnham learned to play defense by playing wide receiver.

Moorestown's Bryan Burnham loves playing wide receiver more than any other position. Loves running routes. Loves putting a move on a defender and picking up extra yards after a catch.

He also says that being a receiver has made him a better defensive back.

"I know all the tricks that receivers have," Burnham said, smiling. "It helps me read them pretty easily."

Maybe that explains how Burnham hauled in 11 interceptions - including two that he returned for touchdowns - and helped Moorestown to a historic 12-0 season.

For his performance, Burnham has been named The Inquirer's South Jersey defensive player of the year.

Burnham was South Jersey's most versatile player. In addition to his 11 interceptions, he caught 32 passes for 672 yards and nine TDs as a receiver. The fleet 6-foot-3, 200-pound senior also scored on five returns (two on interceptions, two on kickoffs, one on a punt) and on an end-around.

"He's one of the best all-round athletes we've ever had at Moorestown," Quakers coach Russ Horton said. "He was always a threat to score, whether it was on offense or defense or kick returns."

A three-year starter who has run the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds, the soft-spoken Burnham is the son of Lem Burnham, a defensive lineman with the Philadelphia Eagles from 1977 to 1980. Brian credits his dad, a volunteer Moorestown assistant, with his development.

"He's helped me a lot. He knows about training and how to do things the proper way with weight lifting and speed training," he said.

As for the future, Burnham has received an offer from Syracuse. He also is considering Penn State, Iowa, Rutgers, Buffalo and Northwestern.

"It doesn't matter which position I play," said Burnham, who runs the sprints for the track team in the spring and competes in the high jump, long jump and triple jump. "I'm just looking for tradition, and I want to go someplace that's not too far away."

The key to this year's undefeated season was a 27-21 mid-season victory over a talented Winslow Township squad, Burnham said. Moorestown outlasted Winslow, even though Quakers quarterback John Eller suffered a ruptured kidney in the game.

"We saw Eller go down and we still pulled it out," Burnham said. "We came together as a team that day and thought nothing could stop us after that."

Nothing did.

Moorestown finished with its first perfect season in 50 years, capping a magical year with a 20-6 win over Long Branch in the Central Jersey Group 3 final. Burnham led the way with an interception and a 53-yard touchdown reception.

"It was a great feeling," Burnham said of the school's third sectional championship. "Just being with the guys is something I'll always remember."