BROOKINGS – Josh Buri had a season most high school players would dream of. He rushed for 1,650 yards with 28 touchdowns while leading Brookings to an 11-1 record and a runner-up finish in Class 11AA.
You can add another notch to his senior season as Buri is the 2020 Brookings Register Player of the Year.
Buri played his first three seasons of high school football in Stewartville, Minnesota, but his senior season was in jeopardy when the Minnesota State High School League decided to move football to the spring in August and there were talks of cancelling it all together.
So he and friend Parker Theobald and their parents decided that if the two wanted to play a full senior season the best thing for them to do would be to move to Brookings.
“Our parents asked us to dinner one night and said ‘so how about going to school in Brookings to have a normal senior year and play football and finish it out with a whole senior year?’ and we were like ‘sure.’ So we had about 14 or 15 hours to tell everybody and say goodbye and then we were on the road the next morning,” Buri said.
Buri said the first couple weeks in Brookings were a little tough because he and Theobald did not have a house yet.
“So the first month we were [in Brookings], we were house hunting. So Parker and I lived in a hotel. We were going to practice and we’d go back to the hotel. Then about a week or three days before our first game we moved into the house and were all good to play and everything,” Buri said.
Brookings head coach Brady Clark said he talked to Buri and Theobald on a Saturday and they were there for the first day of practice on Monday. Buri said he enjoyed the first couple weeks of practice and thought that there was something special brewing.
“The first week of practice you could really sense the family atmosphere that Coach Clark brought. Parker and I fit in great and you could tell that there was something special and it was just a matter of time of when we’d do it. We started clicking Week 2 and Week 3. Which is incredible when you think about having a whole new offense, whole new defense, new coaching staff and two players. After that it was just a steady climb uphill,” Buri said.
Buri’s biggest game of the year came in the semifinals against Huron where he had 215 yards on 21 carries and four touchdowns. He had three carries for 30 yards and three touchdowns against Spearfish in the quarterfinals.
Buri finished the season averaging 11 yards per carry. Clark said the thing that makes Buri such a good running back is his work ethic.
“He puts in much more work than you’re seeing high school kids do,” Clark said. “He’s constantly in contact with me and other coaches about different ideas and what he thinks will work and won’t work. He’s texting us throughout the day and working on the weekends. Then also not only his work ethic, but his overall commitment to not only being a good football player, but also a good role model.
“He’s put in the work and the results show.”
Buri was not as quick to complement himself. He gave most of the credit to his offensive line and other offensive teammates.
“[The factor that led to success] was definitely the offensive line and all the skill players. Everybody wanted to be there and win a state championship. They wanted to be on the field for everybody,” Buri said.
After his junior season in Stewartville, Buri had zero scholarship offers. He said after this year he had 16 ranging from FCS schools to Division II schools. Then South Dakota State offered him and he immediately jumped on the chance to play for the Jackrabbits.
“I’ve been talking to SDSU since my freshman year because we went to team camp every summer there,” Buri said. “I know coach [John Stiegelmeier] and coach [Jimmy Beal] who is the ex-running backs coach and is now at Montana State, but he speaks highly of SDSU. I know most of the coaching staff and have already built a relationship with them over the past four years. So once they offered, I committed right on the spot because this is where I want to be.”
No one thought heading into the season that Buri and the Bobcats would have the season they did. They were predicted to be middle of the pack after a state championship appearance in 2019. Buri helped prove the doubters wrong and that’s what he’ll remember and wants people to remember about his senior season in Brookings.
“I want people to remember that everyone this past season doubted Brookings High School and our football team from the get go. We weren’t even in the top 10 and then we finally hit stride midseason and started to get some eyes on us. We were still hungry, even going into the playoffs as the No. 1 seed we still had that chip on our shoulder of being underdogs. I want people to remember that we were doubted at the beginning of the season and then we were thought very highly of at the end of the season,” Buri said.