DeMatha’s Mac Burke juggles roles for Stags soccer, football


DeMatha’s Brendan Burke is balancing duties as the Stags goalkeeper and place kicker for the football team this fall. (Photo by Doug Kapustin/For The Washington Post)

Mac Burke is good at almost anything he tries it seems, and DeMatha soccer coach Dafydd Evans was reminded of that concept earlier this summer during the preseason. Evans had set up a tennis tournament for all of his players, a team building exercise. Burke had never played tennis before – but within five minutes he was excelling against his teammates.

“If he looks this good at tennis,” Evans said he remembers thinking, “I’m sure he could do anything.”

Burke is one of DeMatha’s best students (he’s the student body president and is committed to attending the Naval Academy next fall), and, this winter he’s proving to be one of the school’s most versatile athletes. He is the leader of the No. 1 Stags in soccer, where he is one of the best goalkeepers in the area, and he doubles down as the kicker for the second-ranked football team.

“If anything, [playing both sports] gives me a chance to get to know more people at DeMatha. I mean, the football team is huge,” Burke said last week. “It’s so much fun. I love DeMatha.”

Burke has been shuffling his time between the two roles since his junior season. His free time is limited between his duties of running the student body, making saves for the soccer team and kicking for the football squad – but the schedule seems to align perfectly (most DeMatha football games are Saturday’s, while soccer games fall on Friday’s and Tuesday’s). He won’t miss any time for either team this year; soccer practices fall before football practices, and the Stags football staff drills the special teams at the beginning of practice. Then Burke takes off for home to jump on homework and any other academic related responsibilities.

On the two different playing fields, the adjustment has been simplified by Burke. Kicking is kicking, he said, and he has done it well; he hit three field goals in his first two games for the Stags (2-1), including two in a win over Godby (Fla.) before a national television crowd at Byrd Stadium.

“Probably the biggest difference between football and soccer is the size of the kids,” Burke said. “You don’t get many 6-7, 300-pound kids running at you [in soccer]. That’s a little scary.”

Soccer is his primary sport (he’ll play at Navy next year), and Burke has been a key part of the Stags for several seasons. He was a second-team All-Met last fall, when he recorded clean sheets in 14 of 18 games. DeMatha has opened the season 2-1, and the multi-dimensional Burke will be pivotal in setting the team’s course this fall, according to Evans.

“He’s very competitive. He demands the best out of the players. But he’s constructive in it, not vindictive,” Evans said. “He’s a great leader. Great leadership qualities, hence, going to the Navy. The boys think the world of him, as much as a person as a soccer player. And a football kicker, and whatever else he wants to do.”

Roman Stubbs covers the University of Maryland athletics for The Washington Post.

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