AHS graduate receives Burlsworth Character Award

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Ashdown football coach Matt Richardson and Cody Barton.
Ashdown football coach Matt Richardson and Cody Barton.

By Ronda Pounds

ASD Public Relations Coordinator

Ashdown High School 2019 graduate Cody Barton received the Brandon Burlsworth Character Award during the annual AHS Athletic Banquet. The award is presented to a high school football player in recognition of outstanding character and sportsmanship.

“The award honors the player who may or may not be a top athletic performer, but who represents the ideals and values that Brandon Burlsworth had:  to give 100 percent on the field and to stand as a moral example to his team.” AHS football head coach Matt Richardson said/ “Cody is one of the best young men I’ve ever been around. I’m excited to see what God has planned for him.”

Cody has been playing football since 4th grade at offensive guard and defensive tackle positions. He has earned honors and played at OD All American Bowl in Atlanta, Ga. (2017), New Orleans, La. (2018) and Daytona Beach, Fla. (2019). He never missed a days practice and could be found practicing at night and on weekends for self improvement and to do his best for his team.   He lives by the motto of #NVRQUIT and wants to leave a positive influence everywhere he goes. His other favorite motto is “I may win, I may lose, but I will never be defeated.”

The legacy he hopes to pass on, “Tomorrow is a new day, give it your all everyday, do your best today and improve tomorrow on what you could not do today. Believe in yourself and others, and it takes a team to move a mountain.”

While at Ashdown Public Schools, Cody wrestled for four years, where he wrestled at state his junior and senior years and was also in the Purple Pride Band through his junior year.

According to the Burlsworth Character Award Website: When Brandon Burlsworth arrived on campus in 1994 as a walk-on, he had no money, no famous last name, and absolutely no Division 1 scholarship offers. Through his unbelievable work ethic and ceaseless determination, Brandon not only earned a scholarship, but became team captain, All-SEC 1997-1998, First Team All-American in 1998, and the first All-American from the University of Arkansas in a decade. His success was not limited to the gridiron. He was also named to the All-SEC Academic Honor Roll 1995-1998 and was the first football player in the entire history of his university to earn a Master’s degree “before” playing his last game. Brandon was selected by the Indianapolis Colts as the 63rd overall pick in the 1999 NFL draft. After minicamp, he was projected by his coaches to start as a rookie. The Burlsworth Character Award has been given out in Arkansas High Schools for the past 11 years in recognition of outstanding character and sportsmanship, and is now nationwide.

Unfortunately, Brandon was killed in a head-on automobile collision just 11 days after being drafted.