A packed house greeted the new football coach at South Putnam Monday evening as new principal Kieth Puckett introduced Troy Burgess to players, parents and faculty.
"I'm very familiar with this school here," Burgess told those in attendance Monday.
Burgess can lay claim to two consecutive undefeated regular seasons while at Owen Valley and he told the people at Monday's meet-and-greet that it would have been three straight had it not been for a loss to South Putnam.
Burgess will take over for Wildman, who announced his resignation at the conclusion of the 2005 football season. He retired with more than 140 wins.
Burgess comes to South Putnam with a nine-year record of 45-38, including a 33-9 mark while heading Owen Valley. He was 12-29 in four years at Greenfield-Central.
"I have a lot of respect for Coach Wildman," Burgess said. "You don't replace (someone like Wildman).
"It's very humbling to step in a situation like this, replacing a guy like him."
While at Greenfield-Central, Burgess guided the football team to its first conference championship. He was with Owen Valley for four seasons, leading the Patriots to three-straight Western Indiana Conference championships.
He graduated from Ball State University with a degree in physical education and played high school football at New Castle.
He and his wife Jenny have two children, Samantha, 9, and Mason, 6.
Burgess told the people at Monday's meeting that family was very important to him.
"We want to do things as a family," he said. "We're all part of the same group."
He told those in attendance Monday that winning the county, conference and sectional titles were the most important goals for the 2006 Eagles.
"Those three goals are very realistic here," he said.
Puckett said because of financial problems at the school, it had been difficult to find a coach to replace Wildman, who won a state title in 1986 and guided South Putnam to the state finals in 2002.
Puckett said with the Reduction In Force going in the corporation, he was not sure if a coach could be hired from outside the corporation.
But while conducting the search to replace Wildman, he said the outgoing coach and Tri-West Coach Mark Haste helped.
"It's been an awkward situation," Puckett told the crowd Monday. "But both (Wildman and Haste) agreed he was our guy. It was the perfect storm for us."
On Monday, Burgess said there will be few changes to the program. He said the Eagles will continue to run a 4-3 defense and his offense will start with the running game.
"We're run oriented," he said. "That's what was so appealing about this job. I think we will make a smooth transition."
The Eagles finished the 2005 season with a 7-5 record.