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The Burkharts 10/27/21

The Burkhart twins, Levi and Landon, are involved in everything from football to the great outdoors

By Kevin Taylor

Alma Schools 


Levi Burkhart remembers where he was on that chilly November morning in 2015. And for once, he wasn’t sitting in a deer stand next to his twin brother Landon. 


On that morning, the harsh cold wind did little to dampen the smile on young Landon’s face. That morning, he remembers, he bagged his first big buck — a 12-pointer on a rural parcel of land in Oklahoma. 


“I think I was 11,” he said. “I actually killed two that day. It was like 10 degrees; it was so cold we weren’t going to go. 


“There was snow on the ground and it was a 12-point.”


“I wasn’t with him that day,” remembers Levi, who bagged his first buck a year later, an 8-pointer near Chester. “I was at a choir concert that day,”


It’s not unusual to find the Alma twins in separate places, whether it includes a rod and reel, a camouflage jacket for cold mornings in the deer stand, or chasing opposing quarterbacks on the football field. 


But Levi will tell you Landon — born about two minutes before him — treats him like a younger sibling. 


“He holds it over me all the time,” Levi said. “He’s taller than me and he’ll tell me, but not by much. He tells me all the time, ‘I’m older than you and I can beat you in just about anything.’


“We’re together a lot.”


They compete in duck blinds, too. 


“When it comes around to duck season, I’ll take a group and he’ll take a group and we’ll meet up to see who gets the most,” Landon Burkhart said. “We do different stuff all the time. Me and Levi have always been really competitive.”


Through 30 football games, Landon Burkhart is closing in on 200 career tackles from his middle linebacker position. The kid in the No. 34 jersey is a throwback to a different time — a tick under six feet tall, the 175-pound football player who leads the 2021 Airedales with 65 tackles despite playing on a gimpy foot for much of the season. 


Burkhart loves his jersey number almost as much as does hunting and fishing. It was worn before by Jaiden Mitchell, who is Burkhart’s first cousin on his dad’s side of the family. 


‘That’s why I wanted to wear it (No. 34),” Burkhart said. “Plus, they were both inside linebackers.”


“He’s (Landon) a solid inside linebacker,” Alma coach Rusty Bush said. “And Landon has played injured for much of the year, too. He’s a tough, hard-nosed kid who has a great focus on trying to be a really good linebacker.”


With two games left in the 2021 season, the 3-5, 2-3 Airedales still factor in the postseason plans, though last week’s loss to Vilonia, on the heels of the team’s tough 35-34 overtime loss to Morrilton, have made their playoff run a little dicier. 


“You just have to focus,” Landon said. “It takes a lot of focus. You have to pay attention and watch where they’re going, and if you don't get into position, you’ve messed up.”


And now, it’s almost over.


“It’s crazy how fast it’s gone,” Landon said. “Growing up and seeing how fast it’s coming, and with football, it’s really hard to put into words.”


Like Landon, Levi Burkhart — who still flexes his voice as a member of Alma High School’s Honor Choir — has loved every minute of his football experience. 


“It’s a big deal in my opinion,” Levi said. “Looking up to everybody that’s been in this position my whole life, I’ve always wanted to be an Airedale football player. 


“Being a starting player for Alma, it’s definitely something I’ve enjoyed.”


“It’s everything,” added Landon. “I love the sport, I love coming to play. You’re never going to have an experience like that if you don’t play it.”


“I think it’s pretty special when two twin brothers, who’ve come all the way through our program from the seventh grade on, are out there every Friday night,” Bush said. “I’ve watched them grow in the 18 months since I got here, on the field and off the field, and with the hunting and fishing, and what they love to do when they graduate.”


They show up for work every day, too.


“They come out here and work hard every day,” Bush said. “They’re not overly big-sized kids, but you get 110 percent out of them every day, and there is always a smile on their face.”


Friday, the twins will be honored as part of Senior Night. 


“Knowing that I actually get to go out there and play, whenever I’m on the field I have to show everything I’ve got,” Landon said. 


Landon may follow his dad, Chris, into the HVAC business. Levi has a standing offer to become an outdoor guide in Alaska. “I haven’t made up my mind yet what I’m going to do,” he said. “(But) the offer is there.”


As for Levi’s first deer? He remembers. 


“I was 12 years old when I got my first deer — my first nice deer,” he said with a grin. “I remember jumping on the deer’s back because I was so happy.”