Elijah Burgess is Golden


Add the name Elijah Burgess to the list of Rhode Island’s most prestigious football club.

The 5-foot, 7-inch, 165-pound Johnston High School senior is one of only 12 schoolboy gridders who have been named to the annual Golden Dozen by the Rhode Island Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame.

“What an honor,” exclaimed Dennis Morrell, the JHS principal, when he learned of Burgess’ distinction Tuesday. “That’s great!”

To which JHS Athletic Director Keith Cory added, “What a wonderful honor.”

It’s an honor, as well as membership to an exclusive club, that has strict requirements even before a candidate can be nominated for the annual Golden Dozen Award.

“The young man need not be the finest football player in the area, but an exceptional one,” explained Tom Centore, president of the RI Chapter who once starred as an All-State quarterback at JHS in the early 1980s. “He must be a student-athlete who has inspired young players to seek and achieve excellence and is a team player. The scholar-athlete is a person with courage, persistence, sportsmanship and an overall feeling for the game of football, with proper respect for his coaches, teammates, opponents and his school.”

Burgess, said JHS Head Coach Joe Acciardo who nominated the standout Panther, “meets each of those necessary requirements. We’re so proud of Elijah; he has truly earned this coveted honor.”

The prolific Panther, who has landed back-to-back First Team All-Division honors in 2017 and 2016 and has been JHS most outstanding offensive and defensive MVP in each of those seasons while also landing First Team All-Division honors in wrestling, will be honored at the RI Chapter’s 31st Annual Awards Dinner on Tuesday evening, April 24 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Warwick.

The Golden Dozen also includes: Andrew Blessing, East Greenwich; Benjamin Cortes, Smithfield; Ethan Ennis, La Salle Academy; Jehlani Galloway, Classical; Dennis Gastel, J. Sanchez/PCD/Wheeler; Erik Hernandez, Shea; Justin Neary, Cranston East; Tyler Richards, Burrillville; Jared Shibley, West Warwick; Jordan Silversmith, North Kingstown; and Will Such, Cranston West.

The Silver honorees are: Nicholas Allen, Coventry; Mathew Archetto, Scituate; Ryan Brady, Barrington; Isaiah Branch, Rogers; Joseph Coutcher, Exeter-West Greenwich; Jacob Gillman, Westerly; Traymore Hayman, PCTA/Central; Colin McKinnon, Postmouth; Aaron Myers, Mount Hope; Jason Pisano, North Smithfield, Mount St. Charles; Michael Rinfrette, Chariho; David Robinson Jr., Middletown; Matthew Ryan, Narragansett; Robert Sprague, South Kingstown; and Luke Swift, Bishop Hendricken.

All those players, as Centore noted, “are not necessarily the Class President and while leadership may be difficult to measure, we stress that our Golden Dozen must be popular, respected and a young man whose attitudes and actions are taken as an example by others.”

The son of Michael and Ivonilde Burgess, Elijah has been extremely involved – and successful – in student life on Cherry Hill.

While he has been an offensive and defensive football player, Burgess has been a member of the JHS wrestling team, track and field and even played lacrosse in 2016. He’s a member of SADD – Students Against Dangerous Decisions – and Co-President of the Panther Cubs.

Moreover, he has been a volunteer for the Free-To-Breathe Walk, Johnston Parks and Recreation Department and the Saint Charles Soup Kitchen. He has also been a busser at 10 Rocks Tapas Bar & Restaurant.

Academically, Burgess has a 3.5 GPA and ranks 33rd out of the 185 JHS Class of 2018. He posted 630 in Math and 560 in Reading for his SAT Scores. He has also taken Advanced Placement Course in Physics and US History.

Burgess has also achieved membership in the National Honor Society in 2017-2018, he has qualified for the National Society of High School Scholars and been selected to the Rhode Island Interscholastic League’s All-League All-Academic Team in 2017.

Although he has yet to select a school for his post-secondary education, Burgess is labeled as player, coaches like Acciardo will attest, “who can play at the college level. He’s got speed, talent and would be dangerous as a punt returner, just like he was at JHS.”

Burgess is now in the running for one of two $1,000 college scholarships that will be awarded during the April 24 black tie awards dinner. Tickets are $50 per person and available by calling 885-2322.

Cutline for pix on sheets slugged 04-03-18 2015



Elijah Burgess (third left), a standout scholar-athlete and senior at Johnston High School, receives congratulations from Head Football Coach Joe Acciardo upon his selection for the RI Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame’s Golden Dozen Award. He’s joined by Athletic Director Keith Cory and Principal Dennis Morrell. (Sun Rise photo by Pete Fontaine)


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