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Adam Buirge, Park Center High School (Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune)

A white kid. With speed to burn. Excelling in relative anonymity at one of Minnesota’s long-suffering high school football programs.

Park Center’s Adam Buirge knows you don’t think he exists.

He heard doubters at college scouting camps. But he earned a scholarship to play receiver at Northern Illinois.

“There’s definitely a couple stereotypes,” Buirge said. “At camps they get surprised when I line up for the 40-yard dash and run 4.43 [seconds]. But I kind of like it. When people don’t believe you can do something, you naturally want to prove them wrong.”

The 6-1, 180-pound receiver/defensive back hears it locally because he plays for a program with 15 consecutive losing seasons.

“I feel like I get overlooked being at Park Center just because we don’t play in the Prep Bowl,” Buirge said. “But I can see in my teammates that we’re not going to be the same Park Center.”

Ample playing time awaits. Buirge will play cornerback and safety and return kicks and punts, and he takes snaps at receiver, running back and even quarterback.

“If I get the ball in open space, I’m dangerous,” Buirge said. “Once I get the ball, I’m [thinking] end zone every time.”

Buirge showcased his myriad skills in a victory against Armstrong last season. He made eight tackles and intercepted two passes, returning one 45 yards for a touchdown. He returned three kickoffs for 130 yards and caught three passes for 40 yards and a touchdown.

Underestimated by outsiders, Buirge is considered a Mr. Football candidate by Pirates coach Paul Strong.

“He is the blueprint of what Park Center is all about,” Strong said. “People doubt his ability. People see us as a doormat. But Adam likes to compete and he does so with a chip on his shoulder.”

David La Vaque

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