West Fannin High School had no bigger rival in athletics than the Bobcats of Gilmer County. Between 1956 and 1975, the last season of football competition at West Fannin, the two teams met every season. The series ended with 10 wins for West Fannin and 10 wins for Gilmer County. Most of the games were rough, tough rockem’ sockem’ affairs, but on the night of Saturday, September 14, 1974, Scott Burger carried his Yellow Jackets teammates to a 31-0 victory at Gilmer County in one of the most amazing performances in the gridiron history of Fannin County. Burger’s performance in that game and many others has resulted in his election to the Fannin County Sports Hall of Fame.
In the 1974 Gilmer game, Scott Burger carried the ball 12 times and gained 176 yards. He ran for touchdowns of 37, 33 and 7 yards. He kicked a 40 yard field goal and punted four times for an average of 56 yards per kick. He was successful on two extra point kicks, giving him a total of 23 points for the evening. For his efforts, Scott was named the Atlanta Constitution State of Georgia Back of the Week, a singular honor for a Fannin County athlete.
A native of McCaysville, Scott began his baseball career at the age of eight and began playing football at McCaysville Elementary School in the sixth grade. He was successful at both individual and team levels from the start and quickly established himself as one of the elite young athletes in the Fannin County and Copper Basin area.
In baseball Scott was perennially named to all-star teams in the leagues in which he competed. He was named MVP in local Little League competition in 1967, Dixie League in 1970 and Pony League in 1971 and 1972. He was a pitcher and outfielder for these early teams. As a football player at McCaysville Elementary, he led his team to the county championship in 1970. As a 13-year old in 1970, he won the area Punt, Pass and Kick Competition. He went on to win the District Championship and, in the process, discovered that he had a special gift for kicking the football. Scott credits coaches Shorty Stepp, Herdis Phillips, Bernard Harper, Frank Henson, Edward Massengale and others for contributing to his pre-high school success.
Moving on to West Fannin High School, Scott played baseball and football from 1972-1975. He won three varsity letters in each sport.
On the gridiron, Scott played defensive end and halfback on offense. He was also the team kicking star for three seasons. He was singled out by local media for his play against powerful Murphy, North Carolina High in 1972, his sophomore season, although the Yellow Jackets lost the game by the unlikely score of 2-0. During his junior season of 1973, Scott’s kicking prowess was always a factor but especially so in the games against Murray County and Model. In the Murray County game, his two extra point kicks provided the victory margin as West Fannin posted a hard-earned 14-12 victory. In the Model contest, Scott dropped one punt dead at the 3-yard line and later another at the Model 1-yard stripe. The second punt led to a Yellow Jacket score when, on the next play, a Model fumble was recovered in the end zone by the Yellow Jacket to insure a 14-0 victory for West Fannin.
As a senior in 1974, Scott put his entire game together and was named the MVP of the football team. That season, he made 60 tackles from his defensive end position, 40 unassisted and 20 assisted. He scored 90 points on 18 of 20 extra points kicks, 4 field goals and 10 rushing touchdowns. As a halfback in a wishbone offense, he gained 782 yards in 99 rushing attempts for an average of 7.9 yards per carry. He missed 1 ½ games with an injury. He was generally considered as one of the best, if not the best, high school punter in the state of Georgia with an average of 48 yards per kick.
He was honored nationally by his selection as an All-American by the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based High School All Americans Association and by the Montgomery, Alabama-based Coach and Athlete Magazine.
In baseball, Scott hit over .300 in each of his three seasons and was named as the team MVP in 1975. He also pitched and posted an E.R.A. of 1.11 during his senior season. He was selected as the Most Athletic Boy in the 1975 West Fannin graduating class.
Scott is quick to point out that his high school coaches T.J. Thompson, Mike Whitley, Deaune Hedden, Mike Gates and Kenneth Wood recognized his talents and helped him develop his athletic skills.
Scott Burger was highly recruited by numerous colleges and universities and accepted a football scholarship offer by the University of Tennessee. He reported to fall drills in the autumn of 1975, but returned home due to personal reasons after a few weeks in Knoxville.
Scott loves hunting and fishing and currently makes his home in the mountaintop community of Suches, Georgia. He and his wife Deborah will celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary in April, 2017. They have three grown children, Jeremy, Jarod and Laci Burger Combs, and three grandchildren. He is retired following a 34-year career with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers