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Burr-Kirven (SHP '15) named Football Player of the Decade

VYTAS MAZEIKA | Bay Area News Group
SHP grad Ben Burr-Kirven has been named the Mercury News' High School Football defensive player of the decade. 

ATHERTON — Ben Burr-Kirven continually fought a stigma as a 6-foot inside linebacker at Sacred Heart Prep, then for four years in the Pac-12 at Washington.

“You can’t measure a person’s heart, right?” said Pete Lavorato, his coach at SHP.
The only two-time Mercury News player of the year (2013, ’14) had his sights set on playing at either Stanford or USC.

Instead, it was Washington which stepped up with a scholarship offer for the eventual 2018 Pac-12 defensive player of the year.

“He plays hard, he plays fast, he plays aggressive,” Stanford coach David Shaw said a couple of years ago. “There is no hesitancy in his game at all. He sees it and he goes full speed.”
Pro scouts weren’t exactly sold, with the nation’s leading tackler slipping to the fifth round of the 2019 NFL draft.

Yet, Burr-Kirven continues to disprove doubters every step of the way.

Consider the fact that he only lost three times at SHP. Burr-Kirven helped put the Gators on the map with Central Coast Section titles in 2012, ’13 and ’14 — each more impressive than the next.

In a NorCal championship game as a junior, Burr-Kirven ran for 163 yards and four touchdowns while racking up 17 tackles in a 42-7 rout of El Cerrito, thereby punching SHP’s ticket to its first state final.

As a senior, SHP stomped through a gauntlet of storied CCS programs — Oak Grove, Los Gatos and Bellarmine — en route to an Open Division title. Burr-Kirven scored both TDs in a 14-0 shutout of Bellarmine at San Jose City College to cap a 13-0 campaign.

In an era before the CIF expanded its state playoffs, SHP’s undefeated team didn’t get invited to a regional.

So the CCS’s premier championship at the time was the end of his high school road.

“This is the highest level of achievement you can get in the Bay Area for football,” Burr-Kirven said. “This is it. So there’s nothing better than this.”

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Where Scholarship and Values Matter
Founded by the Society of the Sacred Heart, SHS is a Catholic, independent, co-ed day school for students in preschool through grade 12