Deer Lakes father, son unsatisfied with missing playoffs

Monday, August 15, 2022 | 8:17 PM

Derek Burk didn’t wait long to try and make improvements after last year’s close home loss to Burrell.

The 28-24 setback factored into the Lancers missing a WPIAL Class 3A playoff spot in a tiebreaker with the Bucs and East Allegheny in the Allegheny Seven Conference.

“My wife texted me and asked me to tell Derek to come out of the school,” said Deer Lakes coach Tim Burk, Derek’s father.

“It was close to midnight, and she was the only one sitting in the parking lot. I come out of the coach’s room to see where Derek is, and he is in the weight room. He was working out. He told me that it wasn’t good enough, and he wasn’t good enough. He said he needed to be better. He put it on his shoulders. Those are the type of things, lead-by-example things, that are seen by his teammates.”

Derek Burk enters his third year as Deer Lakes’ starting quarterback, and he said he’s ready to take that next step in his varsity journey that started with inexperience as a freshman during the challenging 2020 season affected by the covid pandemic.

The potential for the team, with several starters back from last year’s group that went 4-6 overall and 3-3 in conference play, has Burk excited.

“The game has slowed down a lot for me from last season and definitely from my freshman year,” he said. “Working with the varsity guys, the scout group and the younger kids overall, I think I have taken on more of a leadership role being a third-year starter.

“I really worked on improving my footwork, mechanics, strength and speed that should really help me improve my game.”

Burk last year completed 86 of 159 passes for 1,096 yards. He tossed eight touchdowns and was intercepted eight times.

He threw multiple touchdowns in a game three times and tallied a season-best 186 yards in a victory over Derry.

“He’s confident, and he’s believing in what he is doing,” Tim Burk said. “He’s put in a ton of work in the offseason. He’s worked with some guys outside of the program like (Pitt/NFL alum) Tom Ricketts up at the Lab Sports Performance (in Cranberry) and others who have taught him a lot. He’s a key guy for us that we are counting on to get us to where we need to be.”

Derek Burk said the experience coming back at wide receiver, led by 6-foot-2 junior Ryan Cochran as well as juniors Wayne Love and Aiden Fletcher, will make the passing game difficult for opposing defenses to defend against.

“I love throwing the ball more than anything,” he said. “I know where these guys are going to be, the speed they have and the ability they have to get open.”

Burk didn’t run the ball many times last year. That fell mostly to Cody Scarantine who finished with 175 rushes for 843 yards and seven touchdowns in 10 games.

Despite Scarantine’s graduation, Burk said the run game should be effective with the likes of seniors Aiden Detman, Chris Blatnik and sophomore Zier Williams.

“We also have a really strong line up front,” Burk said. “We have so many pieces with experience and others who are ready to step up. We should really be able to move the ball. They all help me do what I do, and I want to be there for them.”

Burk wasn’t shy about assessing his team’s chances in the Allegheny Six with Freeport and East Allegheny back as playoff teams from last year. Knoch drops down from Class 4A, and Valley and Shady Side Academy provide local flair.

“With having a ton back, we have a good chance at winning the conference,” he said. “It won’t be easy. We have to be well prepared every Friday, no question. But this is our year to make that push.”

Being the son of a high school head football coach often carries with it extra scrutiny that can range from the amount of playing time to how he is used in a system. Tim Burk said his son takes the scrutiny he receives in stride.

“It can be hard, no matter what school you’re at,” the coach said. “If there is something said or something like that, he takes it with a grain of salt and doesn’t show much emotion towards it. He just puts his head down and wants to work that much harder. He understands what his role is, and he is driven to prove that he can get the job done where and when called upon.”

Burk’s talents have produced interest from numerous area schools in Division II and also a couple of Ivy League schools and others in Division I such as Youngstown State and Duquesne.

“It’s pretty cool to see what opportunities are out there to play at the next level,” said Burk, who carries a 3.8 GPA into his junior academic year.

“I know that to get there, I can’t take a step back. Coaches are watching, and I need to make sure I am at my best.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at or via Twitter .

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