Only a junior, J.R. Burton has emerged as one of WPIAL’s top talent running backs.

Kara Mihm, Staff Writer

How long have you been playing football?

I have been playing for seven years—since 3rd grade.

Who inspired you to start playing?

My dad. As I was growing older, getting into college became more of a focus. I began to gravitate towards football, as I thought there was a better chance of getting a scholarship. He supported me all the way, especially after a particularly grueling freshmen season when I was thinking about quitting. He played a major role in my eventual decision not to.

What is your favorite aspect of the sport?

My favorite aspect is the “vengeless” camaraderie that results from contact between players no matter how hard the hit was. You help each other up and you’re both ready to compete again next play.

As a running back, how do you prepare to run at top speed?

I try to drive my legs as hard as I can—like high knees, but with a slight forward lean until I finish accelerating. I then run normally until I score or run into a defender and then make a move.

Describe your team in one word.


Who’s the most underrated player on the team?

Sean Metcalf. Bro makes big plays and he’s a monster on defense. He just doesn’t get the recognition.

Are you hoping to play football in college? What do you look for in a school?

Yes. I’m looking for a good English and philosophy program.

What do you do for fun outside of football?

Read books. My favorite book is definitely Brisingr, the third book in the Eragon saga.

Before an important game, what’s your go-to pump-up song?

“Posted” by ABG Neal.

How do you celebrate after you score a touchdown? Do you have a specific dance move?

I don’t really celebrate. I either run up to jump or shoulder-tap a teammate. Or one of the linemen, Bené Caputo or Mike Dorn, will do the rocket ship. The rocket ship is when I jump in the air and one of them will grab me to push me higher up.

Who would win an arm-wrestling match on your team?

It would probably be between me, JP Cantú, Brady Leczo, and Luke Rumpler. Rumpler would win, though.

Do you enjoy wearing your football jersey to school on game days?

I’m at home on Fridays, so I haven’t this year, but yes. I honestly enjoyed wearing my jersey on Fridays because it reminded me of the game later that day and I couldn’t wait to play. 

After a long game, what’s your favorite post-meal?

A large buffalo chicken pizza from Monte’s.

What’s your spirit animal?


What movie can you watch over and over again without it getting boring?

I can’t decide between Puss in Boots or Shrek.

If someone narrated your life, who would you want to be the narrator?

Alina Zaidi. I’ve changed a lot in the last few years physically and mentally and she’s been there the whole time. She understands my philosophy and principles. She’s really smart as well, so I don’t have to spend excess time explaining things. Lastly, she knows me better than anyone else. She’s like a confidante. And she can tolerate my usually less than cheery outwards demeanor.

And finally, what’s one thing people don’t know about you?

People have told me that I should quit football because I have asthma and that I’m too short and small. They said that I would never start.