E.A. Sports Today

Tigers tab Burns

Clay Central defensive coordinator named Cleburne County head football coach

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

HEFLIN — Joby Burns has been a head basketball coach in Clay County for more than 10 years, but he’s “always” been a football guy and Thursday administrators in Cleburne County gave him a chance to show it.
Burns was approved as the new head football coach and assistant athletics director at Cleburne County High School during a special meeting of the board. It’s his first head coaching job in football although he’s been a football coach longer than he’s been a basketball coach.
“I’ve always been a football guy,” he told East Alabama Sports Today Thursday. “I’ve always been a football guy, just coaching other sports.
“I never really applied for many jobs. I didn’t want to be one of those guys who moved my kids around all the time. Now all my kids are gone, I think I’ve applied for two jobs before when I thought the timing was right. It worked out.”
Burns succeeds Michael Shortt, who retired at the end of the school year after 21 seasons as the Tigers’ head coach. The job drew a lot of interest. Burns was one of nine coaches interviewed, including several in-house candidates, from a field of 40 applicants.
“There were a lot of names out there,” new Cleburne County principal Jeffrey Bryant said. “We had to look for a guy who fit a lot of different areas for us. At the end of the day it became apparent because of his background and the success he had he was a great fit for us.”
Burns has been the head basketball coach at Lineville and Clay Central since 2007 and has been the only basketball coach the Volunteers have ever had.
During his time as a football assistant he has been a coordinator on both sides at both schools, last year returning to defense upon Danny Horn’s triumphant return to Clay Central. His last two years as offensive coordinator the Vols scored 34 points or more 16 times in 24 games. During last year’s state championship run his defense gave up eight points or less eight times in their first 11 games.
Now it’s his turn to call all the shots and he admits “it’s going to be different” in a multitude of ways. When something unexpected arises, he’ll lean on the lessons and experiences learned from coaching mentors Steve Giddens, Horn and Ron Watters.
“I’ve always said I wanted to be able to devote all my energy into one,” he said. “Being a football guy and being the head basketball coach there’s a lot you’ve got to do. I’ve been looking forward to doing this. I always enjoyed basketball. I love football and this is what I’ve been working to get to. I’m excited to put all my energy into football and support the other sports as well.”
Burns admits he knows very little about the team he’s inheriting, but will get a good dose of it when he brings it together formally Monday. Summer workouts will be critical for the Tigers with a lot of 7-on-7 against themselves, although they do have a date reserved for Piedmont’s passing camp right before the start of fall practice. 
“I’m looking forward to seeing what we’ve got,” he said. “The only thing I know about the kids is how good kids they are. I expect them to do right, act right, do the right thing and work hard. The other stuff will take care of itself.”

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