Jan. 10, 2023
Senior honored for character & sportsmanship
An Upper St. Clair High School student-athlete was recently recognized for outstanding character and sportsmanship. Senior Marcus Fennell was honored with the Burlsworth Character Award from the Brandon Burlsworth Foundation.
The Burlsworth Character Award is presented nationwide by high school coaches to a senior player that represents the ideals and values that Brandon Burlsworth had. Marcus received the award from head football coach Mike Junko.
“Marcus comes from a family with strong ties to the military. He understands the willingness to stand in the breach and the honor that is bound to protecting others,” Coach Junko said. “The life of an offensive linemen is one in which very little glory is earned on the front pages of the newspaper. Instead, their time is spent lifting others to new heights and sharing in those successes. Marcus embodies all of the reasons our program has been successful over the past few years. Just like Brandon Burlsworth, it is rooted in a selfless desire to lead others to greatness through his own sacrifices. We are blessed that Marcus was a part of our football program.”
Through hard work and determination, Brandon Burlsworth ascended from walk-on to team captain and All-American at the University of Arkansas. In the 1999 NFL draft, he was selected by the Indianapolis Colts as the 63rd overall pick. Sadly, Brandon was tragically killed in a car accident just 11 days after the draft.
“Anyone that knows the story of Brandon Burlsworth knows the story is rooted in character. The award named in his honor recognizes an individual that possesses moral character and a willingness to give 100 percent,” Coach Junko said. “Marcus Fennell truly represents the discipline, integrity and love for his teammates that Brandon Burlsworth epitomized.”
According to the organization’s website, the Burlsworth Character Award “is given out nationwide 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. We hope that the award encourages the honoree to continue on his path of excellence, and inspires others to follow his lead.”
A multi-sport athlete, Marcus competed in football, wrestling and baseball at Upper St. Clair High School. He is a member of the National Honor Society and Natural Helpers organizations. In addition, Marcus devotes considerable time volunteering with special needs students through the school’s SHOP@USC and Partners in PE programs. During COVID, he used his International Middle Years Program project to connect Miracle League Athletes with local high school athletes through a letter writing campaign.
“As a member of our football program Marcus was always willing to put his community and teammates first,” Coach Junko said. “A willingness to give back and a dedication to sacrifice for others is something that Marcus will always be remembered for.”
Marcus plans to major in mechanical or aeronautical engineering while playing football at the collegiate level. His career goal is to become a pilot.