Greenwood High School football player Ryder Burchett envisions himself one day returning to his hometown as a police officer.
In this case, the long arm of the law stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 255 pounds.
Burchett, a senior left tackle, teams with three-year starting center Thomas Bowling to anchor the offensive line for the Woodmen this season.
Greenwood is coming off a 7-5 campaign in which it advanced to the championship game of Class 4A’s Sectional 21.
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Roncalli eliminated the Woodmen, 35-19.
Burchett, whose first varsity start came as a sophomore in a Week 9 loss at Whiteland, has improved to the point where Indiana University, the University of Indianapolis and other college programs are beginning to show interest.
“I think I have the mental experience. I know what it’s going to be like to play on those Friday nights and what it takes to get the job done,” Burchett said. “I think we have good communication through the line.
“When they run your direction, you feel as if you made the play when the running backs score the touchdowns.”
Greenwood accounted for 38 trips to the end zone in 2015.
Averaging 303.4 yards of total offense a year ago, the Woodmen bring back junior quarterback Seth Gallman (72 of 144 for 1,273 yards) and junior Brandon Rosado (701 rushing yards, 1,036 all-purpose yards).
Seniors Dylan Rosado (167 yards rushing, 231 receiving) and A.J. Reingardt (239 yards passing, 30 rushing) are two more versatile options for Greenwood’s offense.
Having a talented left tackle makes Greenwood that much more dangerous.
“Ryder is an important player for our team. On offense, he is a big lineman who can close up a bunch of holes on the outside,” Dylan Rosado said. “He’s bigger than most of the guys he’s matched up against. I feel so comfortable having him as my blocker on offense.
“He’s a leader on our team, and everyone looks up to him.”
Burchett admits to having always been among the tallest kids in his class since starting kindergarten.
He played baseball through his eighth-grade school year, but opted for track and field once in high school. Burchett placed eighth last spring in the shot put at the Columbus North Sectional with a best of 43 feet.
Entering Friday’s season opener at home against Perry Meridian, Burchett is capable of bench-pressing 275 pounds, squatting 375 and power-cleaning 235.
Burchett, who would like to one day major in criminal justice, also owns a 3.0 grade-point average.
Eleventh-year Woodmen head coach Mike Campbell has enjoyed a sideline view of Burchett’s evolvement as a high school football player. He anticipates a big senior season from one of his biggest players.
“Ryder was a spot starter as a sophomore. He played some guard and some defensive line for us and we kind of moved him around,” Campbell said. “I’ve really seen a maturation in Ryder the last two years.
“Not only from a mental standpoint, but from a physical standpoint. He understands that he has the ability to dominate people. That’s what we’re excited about for this season.”
Burchett, who will play defensive tackle when opposing teams install a short-yardage package, makes no apologies for wanting to live and work in Greenwood once he’s graduated from college.
It’s what he knows and who he is.
“Most of my family is here,” said Burchett, who has two older brothers and a younger sister. “It’s compact, and everything you need is right here in Greenwood.”
2016 football schedule
Aug. 19;Perry Meridian;7 p.m.
Aug. 26;Indian Creek;7 p.m.
Sept. 2;Martinsville;7 p.m.
Sept. 9;at Mooresville;7 p.m.
Sept. 16;Plainfield;7 p.m.
Sept. 23;at Guerin Catholic;7 p.m.
Sept. 30;at Decatur Central;7 p.m.
Oct. 7;Franklin;7 p.m.
Oct. 14;at Whiteland;7 p.m.
First & 10 with… A.J. Reingardt, Greenwood senior receiver
1. What would you consider your team’s greatest strength going into this season?
Probably the togetherness. The bond we have. We’re all best friends and are there to help each other out.
2. What’s something you feel that the team still needs to improve upon?
It’s hard to say, because we’re always trying to focus on the positive. But I would say right now the execution of plays. There is no question about the effort of the players on this team, but right now it’s the execution of plays.
3. “One game at a time” clichés aside, which game on your schedule are you looking forward to the most?
That’s a hard question to answer, but if you ask anybody here they’ll say the Whiteland game. A lot of our players know a lot of their players. Whiteland is only 10 or 15 minutes away, and they’re a really good team.
4. If you could pick a theme song for the 2016 Woodmen, what would it be?
When we work out in the summer coach (Jerrod) Watson usually has some AC/DC going. But I’ll have to say “Eye of the Tiger” because we have a bunch of animals on the team this year.
5. What’s the most critical part of your pregame routine? Any particular superstitions?
(Laughing) I’ve always worn the exact same underwear on game day. Can it be noted that they are washed?
6. What is your least favorite football team, pro, college or otherwise? How come?
Probably the New England Patriots. Can I just give you two words? Tom Brady.
7. If you could sit down for dinner with one athlete, who would it be?
It’s cliché, but Rudy from the movie “Rudy”. I watched that movie about two years ago with my dad. Right there it put more of a drive in me.
8. What’s the biggest difference between last year’s team and this year’s team?
I feel the leadership this year has been better.
9. Greenwood fans will be proud of this team because …
… of the things they’ll see done this season. They’ll be proud not only of the players we’ve become, but the young men we’ve become.
10. If you could write the script for the 2016 season, how would it end?
The obvious answer is winning a state championship with a last-minute touchdown. But if I’m making a movie about this team, I see me and the rest of the seniors graduating and then going on to become good fathers and stuff like that as a result of playing for this football program.
Coach: Mike Campbell
Last year: 7-5, lost to Roncalli 35-19 in Class 4A sectional title game
Who’s back: Offense — Seth Gallman, junior QB; Brandon Rosado, junior RB; Isaiah Borjas, sophomore RB; Ryder Burchett, senior LT; Thomas Bowling, senior C; Ethan McClain, junior RT; Andy Pollert, junior G; Zach Drew, junior G; Cameron Bridges, junior G; Isaiah Drew, sophomore WR; AJ Reingardt, senior WR; Justin VanDyke, junior WR; RJ Meyers, junior WR. Defense – Marco Ramirez, senior DB; Noah Compton, junior DB; Dylan Rosado, senior DB; Will Wolf, senior DB; AJ Reingardt, senior DB; A.J. Montgomery, senior LB; Tim Johns, junior LB; Bryce Taylor, sophomore LB; Nolan Miller, sophomore LB; Nick Chesser, senior DE; Jake Patton, junior DL; Nick Young, junior DL; Joey Craig, junior DL; Dayman Maynard, senior K-P; Spencer Schmidt, senior K-P.
Outlook: After averaging 25 points a game last season, the Woodmen have the potential to be the program’s highest-scoring offense since the 2012 squad produced 37.7 points per contest. Greenwood also seeks its first back-to-back winning seasons since 2011 and 2012. Defensive returnees Compton, Dylan Rosado, Montgomery, Johns, Chesser, Patton, Young and Wolf collectively accounted for 59 percent of the team’s tackles last season.
Campbell says: “I think we have a great blend of juniors and some great senior leadership with this group. We’re looking forward to it. We’re excited. The biggest attribute with this group is how they work and their willingness to be physical in practice. Hopefully that translates into games on Friday nights.”