Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Burger's Interception All the Rage

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Burger's Interception All the Rage

Article excerpt

The setting was a familiar one for New Milford's John Burger.

One-on-one, all eyes on him and his opponent. Best man wins.

Typically, it's on the mats where this wrestling star, who has reached Atlantic City the past two years, thrives.

This time, it happened on the gridiron -- and it came in his first football game in three years.

The New Milford senior wasted no time making a name for himself as a defensive back in the Knights' season opener.

The cornerback listed at 5 feet 9, 155 pounds dazzled the crowd following a two-year hiatus from the sport with a momentum- shifting, one-handed interception that would make even Odell Beckham Jr. proud.

Burger's highlight-film pick came in the first half of the Knights' 21-14 victory over Hawthorne and has since gone viral, making its rounds online courtesy of USA Today, MaxPreps and Worldstar Hip Hop's Facebook page -- reaching the page's 6 million- plus fans.

It was another decision in favor of Burger, who already has won 100 of them in his decorated high school wrestling career.

"I've had a lot of teachers talk to me about that play, but I've been kind of surprised at the attention it's been getting," said Burger, who denied a potential Hawthorne touchdown with a backward leap from the 6-yard line, fully extending to make a play on the ball in one-on-one coverage while securing possession with one hand around the 2-yard line, ripping it from the grasp of the Bears' wide receiver.

"I didn't think any of this would be happening."

Not only did Burger supply one of the early season favorites for play of the year, it came at a key time, too. Hawthorne led, 7-6, in the second quarter and was threatening to extend that lead inside the red zone. After seeing Hawthorne's formation, a New Milford defensive audible altered Burger's assignment on the play -- from zone to man coverage.

That's when Burger's athleticism and competitiveness took over, just like New Milford coach Bill Wilde expected. …

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