Burgess resigns as South Putnam football coach

Monday, December 16, 2013
South Putnam football coach Troy Burgess discusses a play with senior lineman Lane Hacker during a game earlier this season.

After eight season and two sectional championships, South Putnam football coach Troy Burgess had his resignation accepted at the South Putnam School Board meeting on Monday.

Burgess, also the head basketball coach and assistant principal at SPHS, said he can no longer commit the time necessary to serve in all three positions the way he believes he needs to.

"First and foremost I appreciate the kids that played for me," Burgess said. "I really appreciate South Putnam. The support I got from Mr. (Bruce) Bernhardt and Mr. (Kieth) Puckett was absolutely amazing. I feel like I've got three jobs and I'm not doing any of them well."

The Eagles finished 11-2 this past season, finishing 5-0 in the West Central Conference. They were also sectional champions, winning at Indianapolis Lutheran 42-28 on Nov. 8.

South Putnam superintendent Bruce Bernhardt said he was saddened when presenting the resignation request to the board.

"I think a lot of Mr. Burgess," Superintendent Bruce Bernhardt said. "He's done a lot as our football coach. I want to express my sincere appreciation for the kind of a leader he has been with football. He's done a very good job and we're very proud of him. On top of that he's been very successful and that's just icing on the cake."

In eight seasons at South Putnam, Burgess held a 50-36 record and had better than .500 records in each of the past five seasons.

His teams took pride in playing tough defense, stopping opposing teams from running and moving the ball on the ground. That style of play takes focus and commitment, something Burgess said he believes he can no longer bring to the best of his abilities.

"I feel like I've got three jobs and I'm not doing any of them very well," Burgess told the Banner Graphic. "More important than that, I'm getting an opportunity to spend some time with my family."

Burgess's children, Samantha, 17, and Mason, 13, are students at Plainfield. Samantha is a junior and Mason, an eighth-grader, will begin his high school football career next season, which is something Burgess said he didn't want to miss.He also said he hopes to "take a back seat" to his wife's growing career.

"It's time that I become a dad and spend time with my son and daughter," he said.

The time commitment during, both in and out of season, has prevented some of his family time.

"Coach Burgess has given not only to the football program, but also for his commitment to make all of our athletes better through our strength and conditioning program," SPHS athletic director Ken Schnepp said in a statement. "We wish Coach Burgess well has he pursues administrative opportunities within the school and know he will continue to serve our student body as assistant principal; a role he has done well this year along side his head coaching responsibilities in football and in basketball."

Burgess announced the decision to his players after school on Monday and presented that to the school board on Monday evening.

Burgess is leaving a talented, sectional-championship squad behind.

The Eagles have numerous returning starters, including all-state performers Lucas Lorian and Joe Masters. Lorian set school records in yards and touchdowns this season as a tailback, running behind Masters, a sophomore, junior Morgan Grundlock and several seniors including Lane Hacker, Jacob Williams, Rudy Harris and Nathan Criss.

Burgess said he began considering making this his final year during the season but had not made his mind up until a couple weeks after the regional loss to Eastern Hancock on Nov. 15.

On Monday he attended the school board executive session, he said, to thank them for allowing him to coach at the school. The board unanimously accepted his resignation during the regular session.

"I would like to thank you for allowing me to be football coach for the past eight years," Burgess said in his resignation letter. "It's been a tremendous honor and privilege to have served as your coach. I truly enjoyed my time coaching these young men and look forward to watching South Putnam as I move forward."

Burgess's resignation puts North Putnam coach Greg Barrett as the longest-tenured football coach in Putnam County. Barrett just finished his second season at the school after returning from a one-year stint as an assistant at Indiana State.

Cloverdale coach Jarrod Duff recently completed his first season at the school. Last month, Greencastle coach Josh Buis resigned after three seasons with the school. The Tiger Cubs have yet to hire a replacement.

Schnepp said the Eagles plan to begin their coaching search immediately.

"The task ahead will not be an easy one," he said.

Staff writer Lauren Boucher contributed to this story

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  • Job well done-Coach Burgess!! We will miss Fri. nights driving over two hours to the game. Your in-laws are very proud of you. Now, on to the next chapter of your life and we are sure you will do just great. Thanks again for many good games.

    -- Posted by mother-in-law on Wed, Dec 18, 2013, at 3:13 PM
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