Two of the best on the Daviess County gridiron recently took the next step in their athletic and academic careers when Cole Buch signed for Lindsey Wilson and Jack Ball for Center College.
A two-sport athlete in Daviess County, Burch initially focused on basketball — where he earned honors as an all-district member — before head coach Matt Brannon convinced him to join the team for his junior year. Slipping into the roles of tight end and linebacker, he grabbed 149 receiving yards and four touchdowns while recording 34 tackles and a fumble recovery.
After suffering multiple injuries over the past two years, Burch is looking forward to getting healthy and taking the next step after signing with Lindsey Wilson to play football.
“It’s definitely a load off your shoulders,” Burch said. “It’s been a long time coming. I’m excited to go to Lindsey and see all the things I’ll accomplish in the next chapter of my life. It feels good. I feel confident and I’m just grateful that I have this opportunity.”
Averaging 13.6 ppg and 7.9 rpg in his junior year, which saw him play just 18 games and be recognized as one of the district’s best players, Burch will initially say it’s not the path he initially thought he was on that he would be when it came to collegiate athletics.
“I knew I wanted to be a collegiate athlete, but I thought it was going to be on a basketball court,” Burch said. “But then I kind of fell in love with football again. I never expected to play college football, but I’m so excited.”
That’s what Lindsey Wilson originally recruited him for, but they stayed in touch as Burch’s focus shifted to the gridiron. That, along with great academics and a comfortable campus, was what ultimately convinced Senior Panther to join the program.
“I like how it’s remote and small,” Burch said. “I want to study psychology and stuff. Lindsey Wilson’s psychology program is one of the best in the state, so that definitely played a role [in my decision]. I know that I will get a good education. Columbia, Kentucky doesn’t have a lot of distractions, so I know I can get work done on the football field and in the classroom.”
Burch also thanked his teammates and coaching staff, noting that without his Panthers family, he would not have been able to achieve his dream of competing at the collegiate level.
“All my coaches,” Burch said. “All the strength training. I don’t think I could have done that anywhere but Daviess County. They supported me so much on the pitch and on the football field. Having such supportive coaches is something I will forever cherish because without them I definitely could not have achieved what I have.”
Daviess County boys’ basketball head coach Neil Hayden was one of the coaches who supported him no matter what sport he was in, and he said Lindsey Wilson and Daviess County High School couldn’t ask for a better representative of what should be a student athlete.
“He’s a student athlete and when he decided to play football he became a two-sport athlete,” Hayden said. “There were days when they trained on Thursday mornings, I think he came with us in the afternoon. He didn’t take days off and he’s someone who cares about his teammates, cares about winning and cares about this school.
Ball played dual offense roles for the Panthers for most of the season, sharing snaps with junior quarterback Lake Wilson. In that role, he jumped for 709 yards and six touchdowns on 39-72 passes while also being the team’s second-leading rusher with 309 yards and eight touchdowns on 89 carries.
And when Ball wasn’t rolling defense, he was himself that side of the ball as a linebacker with 69 total tackles in the season. He will bring these talents to Center College upon graduation and join a program that has prioritized him throughout the recruitment process.
“It feels good,” Ball said. “I feel a lot of relief … It really picked up a little bit more as the season went on, and then Center just took it on. They’ve put a lot of effort into recruiting me and they’ve made it really clear that they want me. They sent letters and even came to the school a couple of times.”
Ball is excited about the work, mentioning they have top-notch athletics and looking forward to using the new facilities with a team he said feels like family. Having gotten so close to his teammates and coaches this season, he knows how important that is.
Quindarius Wallace is one of the many coaches Ball has a close bond with. One who, upon signing the senior two-wayer, said he loves him as a person off the field and that Center is very happy to have him on the program.
“One thing people don’t understand about Jack is his pursuit of excellence,” Wallace said. “We throw that phrase around a lot, but I think Jack is genuinely committed to every process he’s involved in and he performs at an extremely high level… He’s been a top-notch leader for us through his actions. Vocally not so much, but from his actions and the way he comes to work every day, it’s incredible.”
Jack and Cole will both be greatly missed in Daviess County athletics, but head football coach Matt Brannon said they left a legacy by leading by example. It’s something he will always appreciate and be excited about what they do at the college level.
“I am blessed to have had these two young men in my life for the past four years…” Brannon said. “Not just these two, but our entire senior year—the guys standing back there. It’s such a special group of young men and probably the closest group of seniors I’ve had since I’ve been a coach.