Sports Person of the Week
Burlakoff Making the Most of His Junior Campaign
Dillon Burlakoff is getting carries and making catches as a junior for the Guilford football squad this fall. (Photo courtesy of Dillon Burlakoff)
Coming off a lost season due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Dillon Burlakoff couldn’t wait to begin his junior campaign with the Guilford football squad this fall. Dillon, a running back, is making immediate contributions for the Grizzlies in both their rushing and passing attacks.
Guilford lost its first two games of the season, but bounced back with a 21-0 victory versus Pomperaug to improve to 1-2. With that first win out of the way, Dillon believes that the sky is the limit for the Grizzlies in 2021.
“My expectations are the same as everyone else’s on the team. We want to win a state championship for Guilford,” says Dillon. “But we must all believe it and play as a team to fulfill our expectations.”
Dillon has 10 carries for 97 yards to go with 10 receptions for 50 yards thus far this season. He’s also been contributing for Guilford on special teams. Dillon’s love for the gridiron stems back to him watching his favorite NFL team on television as a youngster.
“I’ve been playing football for seven years. Watching the Dallas Cowboys as a kid really got me into the sport, and I’ve been addicted to it ever since,” Dillon says. “My favorite aspect of the sport is the offense, because all 11 players are involved in the play. Everyone has to do their job in order for the play to work.”
Head Coach Anthony Salvati commends Dillon for the tenacity that the junior brings to the gridiron. While Dillon isn’t the biggest player, Salvati says that he’s constantly competing his hardest, while displaying lots of heart.
“Dillon is a quiet workhorse. What he lacks in size, he makes up for with heart, tenfold,” says Salvati. “Dillon has great vision and instincts, which allows him to hit the smallest of holes and create a big gain when running the ball. He is always a very dangerous punt and kick returner that can flip the field in our favor at any moment.”
Dillon says that his relationship with Coach Salvati is among the strongest he has with anyone at Guilford High School. Dillon views Salvati as a friend and a mentor who he can go to with questions both football-related and otherwise.
“My relationship with Coach Salvati is great. He is a really smart coach and is turning Guilford High School football around,” Dillon says. “I’m confident that we are going to have a strong season, and big reason is because of all the effort he has put into us during the offseason. I’m looking forward to seeing how we finish.”
Guilford was able to play a little football last year by competing in a 7-on-7 touch league. The fact that the Grizzlies couldn’t play their traditional campaign motivated Dillon to put in extra work during the offseason, so he could come back stronger as a junior.
“I worked really hard this offseason to improve my game,” says Dillon. “I lifted weights, worked on footwork, and studied a lot of film for the most part.”
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to linger as Guilford competes this season. Dillon isn’t too worried about playing through the pandemic, because the Grizzlies are following all of the proper safety protocols.
“Our coaches believe that it is safe to play, and they let us play,” Dillon says. “I trust them to do what is best for the team, and I know Coach Salvati has everyone’s best interest in mind.”
Aside from football, Dillon also plays basketball and golf with his friends for fun. He also enjoys gaming. Dillon is interested in continuing his football career at the next level after he graduates from Guilford.
“Football is and always will be my main sport, and I’m hoping that I can play in college once I graduate next year,” says Dillon. “I’m just going to keep working as hard as I can, and I’m hoping that all my hard work pays off.”