NORTAN, Va. (WJHL)- In our new digital series ‘High School Standouts,’ Digital Sports Reporter Michael Epps features local athletes with incredible talent, hoping to take that talent to the next level.
These are athletes that stand out both on and off the field.
This week’s High School Standout is Mikey Culbertson, a graduating senior and former football player at J.I. Burton High School.
The J.I. Burton football program is a special one.
“Oh it’s great there’s nothing greater than being a Raider,” Culbertson said, “It’s the best thing ever, I don’t think there’s any other school to do it like we have.”
With 18 straight playoff appearances, it’s an experience kids in Norton dream of, like graduating senior Mikey Culbertson.
“We build a pretty special bond there and I feel like we were a family, it’s a small school so you really get to know everybody on your team and everybody in the school,” Culbertson said.
Culbertson actually looked up to his dad, Mike, who played quarterback for the Raiders.
“I know he got a lot of accolades in high school and stuff and I just really tried to turn it into a competition with my dad so I think I ended up beating him by a couple,” Culbertson said laughingly.
He may have, being an all-district and all-conference linebacker all four years, making the all-state team his senior year and winning the Region D Defensive Player of the Year award.
He made the all-region 2nd team as a sophomore, and all-region 1st team as a junior and senior.
“He don’t have to be a vocal leader he leads by example and every time he stepped on the field last year stepped in the locker room everybody kinda knew that he was the guy,” J.I. Burton head football coach Jacob Caudill said.
After an 0-2 start, Mikey helped lead the Raiders back, reeling off 10 straight wins before losing to Patrick Henry in the regional final. But it was after that loss that proved this guy has really made an impact on this program.
“I gave the seniors a chance to speak about the season and everything and he kinda left them with the message that Burton football never stops and carry the torch on,” Caudill said.
“It was emotional for sure I was just like don’t suck it up ruin what we have here and the legacy keep it going by that 3rd game I think we got the underclassmen right and I think they answered the call,” Culbertson said.
His time in a Raiders uniform has come to an end; he’s on his way to trade school to become a master electrician, and this team will certainly miss his presence.
“Obviously we’ll miss those 500 tackles in a 4 year career on defense but Mikey is a special kid,” Caudill.
“Best times I’ve had not even on the field but in the locker room with the teams that I’ve played with those are some of the best memories I’ve had in high school and in general,” Culbertson said.
The impact he made here as a player won’t go away. He might even keep that going on the sidelines.
“I hope I can teach them some things I’m thinking about coming back and helping the team out next year so I’m trying to teach them as much as I can and what I know about the game,” Culbertson said.
“He leaves a mark anywhere he goes he’s a likable kid really easy to coach and I think he rubbed off on some of our younger guys,” Caudill said.
Follow this series throughout the year as WJHL’s Michael Epps finds the High School Standout every week on WJHL.com.