Terrell Burgess: Friday Knight Lights
SMHS Coaching Legacy
The San Marcos Knights High School football program started back in 1961 when home games were played at Escondido High School and school enrollment was at 350 students. Legendary coach Bob Woodhouse (100-37-2) won a CIF championship in 1966 while coaching the Knights to seven CIF playoff appearances from 1962-1975, a time when student population increased at San Marcos High to 1,000 students. Ken Broach (98-121-9) led the school to twenty-one CIF playoff games and two CIF championship appearances from 1978-1998 as the SMHS enrollment grew from 1,200 to 2,600 students. Since Broach’s retirement, San Marcos High School has hired four different head football coaches along with longtime San Marcos assistant coach and athletic director Jack Ashby who filled in for one successful season in 2004. Following the 2004 season, the Knights’ football program suffered through seven straight losing seasons and has dealt with losing several talented athletes to Mission Hills, San Marcos Unified School District’s second high school. Since the hiring of head coach Jason Texler prior to the 2012 season, the program that struggled in the early 2000’s has been revitalized and it looks like the success could be long-term.
Coach Texler has twenty-four wins during his first three seasons as head coach for San Marcos High School after the Knights had just twenty-five wins total in their past ten seasons prior to his arrival. Texler is the only football coach in the history of San Marcos High School to win nine games in back-to-back seasons, and he is also the only head coach in the history of SMHS football to take the Knights to the CIF semi-finals in back-to-back seasons. Coach Texler was the head coach at El Cajon Valley from 2005-2006 where he took the Braves to the D-2 championship game in 2005. He was also the offensive coordinator at Helix from 2007-2009 for a Highlanders team that went to the CIF D-2 Championship twice. After a quick stint at Escondido High School for two seasons, Texler saw a great opportunity when the job opened up at San Marcos High School.
In his first season as head coach for San Marcos High School, Texler led the 2012 Knights to a 5-6 (2-2) record and a first-round D-3 playoff appearance. Three of those Knights losses that season were by less than four points. In his second season, Texler led San Marcos to a 9-5 (3-1) record, and their first home playoff victory since the 1991 season. After two more home playoff victories in 2013, the Knights great season ended with a tough loss to Christian in the D-3 championship game. In 2014, Texler took the Knights to a 10-2 (3-1) record picking up another home victory this time in the D-2 section quarterfinals. Although the Knights finished with a tough loss to Rancho Bernardo in the CIF semi-finals in 2014, the Jason Texler era has officially arrived at San Marcos High School and the football program there has quickly turned into one of the best in all of San Diego County.
A New Generation
The Knights have featured some great football players throughout the years. From the likes of Junior Morton, Paul Lawton, Allan Clark, Dickie Bivin, Randy Davila, Jim Jennings, Mark Frazier, James Truvillion, and Marvin Qualls, to more recent players like James Harwell, Tyler Nix, Isiah Hennie, Kevin Estes, Will Freed, Cody Meyer, and Hayden Stark. For many years though, the college recruiting process for San Marcos High School football has fallen short. That is not the case anymore as athletic director Jeff Meyer has significantly helped turn the program around. Last week, I talked about the upcoming Knights’ football season and the college recruitment process with Terrell Burgess, one of the next great student athletes to come through the SMHS football program. A very polite kid who doesn’t turn 17 until the middle of November, the highly recruited senior CB/WR/KR, owned the interview with confidence showing why his recruitment process has been so successful.
Like many of the students who attend San Marcos High School, Burgess grew up in a family who struggled financially at times. He moved to San Marcos from the Murrieta area during the second half of first-grade and attended Alvin Dunn Elementary until fourth-grade. Due to a new school opening in San Marcos Unified, the boundary lines changed and Terrell attended Joli Ann Leichtag Elementary for his fifth-grade year. Burgess shares a great relationship with his crosstown rival from Mission Hills High School, four-star college recruit Troy Warner. “We grew up playing football with each other, so he’s one of my favorite players from around the county.”  Burgess says that his Grandfather Dwayne Henne was his biggest inspiration for him growing up. “My grandpa was from Texas, and he grew up a Cowboys fans, so I became a Cowboys fan too. My aunts and uncles and my mom are all Cowboys fans, so they wanted me to play football.” In July of 2014 Terrell’s grandfather passed away, and since then he has be been living and playing for him. 
Although he played the sport from fourth to seventh grade, Burgess said he didn’t really like football until his freshmen year because he was always labeled as a basketball player. Terrell began his varsity career with the Knights as a sophomore in 2013, and his most memorable moment so far was getting a chance to play with his older brother Isiah Hennie during that season. The first time Burgess went back for a kick return the two knew that Mt. Carmel wasn’t going to kick the football to Hennie, so Isiah told his younger brother that the ball was coming his way and, “to take three steps left and then run right.” Burgess explains. “I took two steps instead and then went right, but my brother made a great block, and I ended up scoring on 99-yard touchdown return.” At 6’0” 180 lbs. with lightning fast breakaway speed and Devin Hester like ankle-breaking moves, Burgess has the potential to “take it to the house” on every kickoff. “Kick returns are nice because you get the space you need, and I feel like I have the most freedom to make a play.”
Burgess displays great speed and quick instincts on defense as well. He can read the offense, and match up well in one-on-one situations. “The play that opened everybody’s eyes about me happened during my sophomore year in the CIF playoffs…I had just made a mistake a few plays before that allowed the (Granite Hills) offense to get behind the corner for a big gain. Two plays later, I read the play and returned an interception for a 105-yard touchdown.”  As a junior, Burgess recorded 29 solo tackles (51 total) and had 4 interceptions. He also took back 13 kick returns for 509 yards and 3 TDs including a 99-yard kick return TD against city rival Mission Hills in the Discovery Bowl. Terrell reminds you of a Charles Woodson or a Champ Bailey prototype when you watch him play on defense. “I try to make sure I see everything on the field. When I’m in man I just try to make sure the receiver knows he’s not going to catch the ball.” Burgess has also competed in Track and Field participating in the 100, 200 and 400 meter, as well as the 4x100 and the triple jump. His 40-yard dash time is 4.6, and he can bench press almost 300 lbs.
College Recruitment/Educational Goals
Burgess received his first scholarship offer from Nevada at the end of February 2015. “I had the biggest grin on my face… it was the greatest feeling.” Since then Burgess, has received offers from Colorado St., San Diego State, Oregon State, Arizona, Utah State, Wisconsin, and Utah. Burgess has no timetable to commit and feels like his decision will come after the season. “I really want to take all five of my official visits before I commit,” he expressed. When I asked if he had any advice for upcoming recruits, Burgess said, “You just have to try and get your name out there. If you get a chance, go to as many little camps as you can during freshmen and sophomore years and then move your way up into the bigger camps.” Terrell also credits the trainers he has worked with over the past few years as being part of his success on the field, “Coach KB, Cree Morris, Jerry Garret and Kareem Williams have all helped me train to get to the level I’m at.” Technology has also played a role in the recruitment process for Burgess. An intelligent student-athlete who holds a 3.0 GPA, Burgess knows that communication is the key to a successful recruiting experience. “Social media is a big thing because schools will follow you and you can follow them back. You should e-mail coaches your film reel and create a relationship with schools when your younger, so they will be looking out for you at the Varsity level.”
The senior at San Marcos High is also socially responsible and willing to help out in the community he grew up in. I asked him if he would stop by his former elementary school this upcoming school year to meet with younger kids and he said, “No problem. That would be awesome…I can do that.” I asked him if he ever thought about coaching when he’s finished playing and he replied, “I’ve always talked about coming back to San Marcos to help coach or to coach a Pop Warner team. It was always my dream to go to the Pop Warner Super Bowl so coaching a Pop Warner team to the Super Bowl would be awesome.” Burgess said he also has always wanted to be a lawyer, so he may try to go into pre-law. If not pre-law, the student-athlete will probably be a business major. My thoughts are that he could be a great sports analyst as well because he is very articulate and has a high vocabulary level.
Previewing the 2015 Season
Burgess credited the Knights’ coaching staff saying that, “Coach Texler is amazing. He’s a good inspirational man.” I asked Terrell if he feels the team has any expectations going into the season and he said, “Everybody wants to win a CIF ring and that’s definitely our goal going into the season, but winning league as a team and making the playoffs is our first priority…maybe getting a higher seed as well.” A brand new playing field has been put down on Excalibur Field for 2015, and the Knights will play home games against Oceanside, Chula Vista, Escondido, Westview, Rancho Buena Vista, and Vista this upcoming season. Having moved up to D-1, the Knights have a chance to play for the Open Division Championship if they can finish in the top eight of the CIF power rankings at season’s end. “We’re definitely a young team but we’re definitely trying to make a run in the playoffs,” Burgess told SDFNL. “We know we have a chance to play in the Open Division Championship and if not, we can still compete for the D-1 title.”
As far as players to look out for Terrell told me, “I feel like we lost a few linebackers, but we have some players coming back there as well. On offense we have junior RB Tyler Rogers who is going to be really good and sophomore WR Kyle Phillips who is going to be an NCAA D-1 kid over these next few years.” Burgess also said that Philips and Rogers would be battling it out for the other corner spot on defense. The Knights will also return Oregon State bound 6’ 8” 215 lb. defensive-end Joah Robinett. “We know that on his side no one is going to get outside of him so it’s pretty awesome,” said Burgess. “Most of the time we play on the same side, so it’s difficult for the offense to run outside on a sweep or anything.” Burgess was also the MVP this past summer for a Knights team that featured some of their new talent and won the Semper Fi/ Maverick Invitational 7v7 Passing Tournament. San Marcos beat Rancho Bernardo in the championship and defeated top seed Mt. Carmel who were led by SDSU three-star commit Lucas Johnson at QB. The Knights also beat El Capitan who are the defending D-2 San Diego County CIF champions. Granted we cannot truly predict how teams will do in the fall strictly based on their passing league performance, but we can get a good look how athletic teams will be.
Based on their performance during the summer passing league, we know the Knights will be athletic in 2015 and coach Texler said the team will also feature some great offensive weapons, including their new quarterback; Jr. Bryson Bolin. “We are returning very explosive players at the running back position and at wide-out. An additional strength will be having one clear-cut starter at Quarterback,” explained coach Texler via e-mail. Texler said overall the Knights are returning 22 letterman, 7 starters on offense, and 8 starters on defense. The offensive-line will return 3 starters. “The challenge for our team will be how we deal with the loss of two college-bound offensive linemen and the fact that we will have as many as 7 or 8 new starters on Varsity. Our defense could be the best overall defense we have had since I got here. We have a few questions up front that need answers to but our back half should be very good.”
The Knights highly recruited basketball star Johnny McWilliams, who has an offer to play football at SDSU and is being looked at by many PAC-12 schools, may or may not play football this season. Other Knights to look out for in 2015 include; 6’ 3” 292 lb. Sr. Jeremiah Castrellon who returns at RG along with Sr. SS Max Graven, Jr. FS Mason Haney, Sr. WR Hoby Teets, Jr. DT/OL Schad Nuño, and So. RB/MLB Josh Bornes. So. SS Kyle Webb, Sr. ILB Kareem Williams, Sr. DT Joey Rodriguez, Sr. RT Nathan Bravo, Jr. LG Rudy Betencourt, Sr. DE Ethan Logan, Sr. C Grant Simmonds, and Sr. ILB Nacion Reese will also try to make their impact on the Knights football program during the 2015 season. Along with coach Texler, the Knights coaching staff includes; Dan Hancher, Eddie Nuckols, Eric Jorgensen, Sean Davidson, Alex Turner, Paul Benner, J.C. Nix, Frank Finnerty, and two ex-Oceanside Pirate players and coaches Tom Carroll and Joel Banuelos.
The tradition and history that make up the legacy of San Marcos High School football are still intact. The number of players in the program for 2013 was about 130. In 2014, player participation grew to about 210, and the 2015 program will suit up about 180 players. School spirit reverberates throughout the San Marcos community each week during the season, and the stands are packed for every home game. A new generation of players and coaches has arrived, and football at San Marcos High School has become exciting. The Friday Night Lights at Excalibur Stadium will deliver SMHS students, alumni, and fans an electrifying environment during the 2015 football season. As we finished our interview, I asked Terrell Burgess to give me his final thoughts about the upcoming season, “All I have to say is just look out for San Marcos… We’re going to make a run this year.”
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