By Christopher Tenpenny
The Missouri Sports Hall of Fame has announced the Class of 2020 and Viking’s head coach Larry Burchett, along with the entire Midway High School football program have been announced as a part of this year’s class.
The Midway football program is one of the most decorated programs in the state as they have won six Class 1 state championships (1969, 1970, 1976, 1978, 1982 and 1996) and seven state championship appearances (1968). Burchett has been a part of all seven as either a player, assistant coach or head coach.
“It’s a tremendous honor,” Burchett said. “I’ve been fortunate to be a part of this program for a long time as a player and a coach. There’s a lot of pride in this program and I’m really glad to see that not only I, but that any player that has ever played for this program, will get a chance to be honored.”
Burchett took over the head coaching duties in 1988 and won his first title as head coach in 1996 with his son as the starting quarterback. Burchett is 258-107 as head coach of the Vikings, good enough for a 71 percent win percentage.
Burchett has coached many players over the years. Former Midway Athletic Director Doug Carder believes Burchett’s impact has crossed several generations and is apparent in the community.
“Coach Burchett has been such a fixture at Midway that he’s impacted at least three generations of some families,” Carder said. “He is a champion of the second chance for kids. He’s kept lots of kids involved in both school and football by giving them a fair chance to come back from poor decisions. Coach Burchett has definitely been a mentor for many young people in the Midway community.”
When asked what made Burchett such a good coach, Carder believes it his ability to adjust to the players he has and put them in the best position to succeed.
“What makes Coach Burchett such a good coach starts with his ability to adapt his program to the skill set of the athletes he has available,” Carder said. “He doesn’t try to make athletes fit a scheme, he fits his program to his athletes. Coach Burchett isn’t afraid to change anything when change is warranted. He cares deeply about his players and the program.”
In total, the Midway Vikings football team has won 22 Western Missouri Conference championships, 27 district titles and earned 24 state quarterfinal appearances as well as 14 total semifinal berths. Midway has produced 125 All-State players with 50 playing at the collegiate level. Burchett believes it takes a lot of good people to have this kind of sus- tained success.
“First you have to have a good group of players,” Burchett said. “And second of all, you have to have a community that loves football. Fortunately, we’ve had good people coaching, good players, good support and when you get all those things together it usually leads to success.”
The Vikings may not have won a state title since 1996, but the heritage and tradition lives on. The community embraces the football team and cannot wait for Friday nights.
“The Midway football program is very special to the Midway R-1 community,” Carder said. “There has always been support for the program including many hours of “sweat equity” from the Viking faithful. The cheerleaders, band, press box crew, chain gang, ticket takers, first responders and every person in the stands wants a Viking victory.”
The ceremony will take place at 11 a.m. Oct. 20 at the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds, Springfield Any current or former Midway Viking football player present will be recognized.