Needham Rockets quarterback Drew Burnett last Friday, Sept. 16 against the Mansfield Hornets, despite his team's loss, and the senior captain is optimistic about the remainder of the season.
The Rockets are currently undefeated in the Bay State Carey Division and will look to earn their second conference win on Saturday when they travel to Curry College to face the Braintree Wamps.
Needham Patch sat down recently to chat with the quarterback—talking about football, the current season and his plans for life after graduation.
You had a career game against Mansfield last Friday—tossed four touchdowns and completed 16-of-32 passes for 326 yards. Were you in awe of your performance? I think so. Definitely going against an opponent like Mansfield, playing like that is pretty—I’m impressed, to say the least.
One of your teammates, Mark Riley, made an outstanding highlight reel catch with one hand. What’d you think of that catch? That was unbelievable. He may have been able to get two hands on it, but it looks good with one [hand]. As long as he catches it, it doesn’t matter much to me.
Prior to the start of the season, you expressed that you wanted to see the Rockets go undefeated. However, after Friday’s loss, you have one loss in the standings—is that dream tarnished? That was the goal originally, but we’ve still got the chance to go undefeated in the Bay State [Conference]. As good as [the Mansfield] game was, it doesn’t really count at all toward playoffs and our dream of going to Gillette [Stadium], so as far as I’m concerned, we're still undefeated in the Bay State.”
How has the season gone thus far? We definitely had a tough first game against Norwood, and I think we’ve made some great improvements from that to play against Mansfield. We stepped up when we had to, so we looked good. We still have some things to fix, but I’m psyched for the rest of the season.
Are any schools besides Bryant University interested in having you play for them next year? I’ve been talking with Tufts [University] and Hamilton [College], Bowdoin [College] and a little bit more with the NESCAC [New England Small College Athletic Conference], and have been looking around at some other schools. The NESCAC is a great league, but just playing in college is my dream, so where doesn’t matter much to me. I just want to get a good education.
You wear No. 8 on your chest; what’s so special about that number? Freshman year, they didn’t let us choose [numbers], so I got number 9 for away games and 10 for home games. Then my sophomore year all the seniors picked first, so it was between 8 and 4, so I chose 8 and I had a pretty good sophomore year on [junior varsity], so I figured I’d stick with it.
What has been your favorite moment with the Rockets football team? I've got to go back to [last year’s] Thanksgiving game, with the crowd and the game just coming down to the fourth quarter. Winning that game was unbelievable, so definitely that’s my favorite moment.
You mentioned the Needham-Wellesley rivalry—what’s so special about it? Also, what’s it like being a part of a series that began in 1882? I think it’s just knowing that it’s gone back so long; so many people have been a part of it. My freshman year, I got called up, so I got to watch the game from the sideline, and that was an unbelievable experience seeing all those players and just knowing that all these kids have played in that same game, and both towns coming to watch it. It's pretty unbelievable.
What’s a typical game day like? Fridays, I'm in school, so it’s tough to stay focused. You’ve got your jersey on or you’ve got the shirt and tie, so you’re pretty much thinking about the game the whole day. Then I usually go home, get a snack after school and then get here early, get the headphones on, listen to music and get focused for the game, so pretty much all day I’m thinking about games.
What are a few songs on your i-Pod that you listen to prior to kick-off? I always have '300 Violin Orchestra]—we play it before the games. I like some combination of some rap, rock, but the last song I probably listen to is 'New Noise' by Refused. It gets me jacked up to play, but those are pretty much my songs.
Do you have any particular pregame rituals that gets you or your teammates pumped up? [Jamie] Arno and I have a little pregame routine we go through. It's kind of been a tradition since sophomore year—freshman year even—so that’s a nice tradition to kind of always have that stability before the games.
Who’s your professional football idol? Definitely [Tom] Brady or [Peyton] Manning. I’ve just been watching them. They have great control of their offenses. They obviously succeeded, so one of those two guys would definitely be my idol.
How great would it be to play the final game of your Needham career on the Gillette Stadium turf? It would be awesome. I’ve been watching the Pats play there, and that’s been a dream since freshman year. We knew we were going to have a good team, so if we got there it would be a dream come true for sure.