By TONY EIERDAM
GORDON – As shocking as the resignation of Gordon head football coach Shane Mallory must have been for Longhorn fans, an equally shocking – yet in a positive manner – occurrence happened Wednesday night at the Gordon ISD board of trustees meeting when the school board approved the hiring of former Richland Springs head football coach Jerry Burkhart.
Burkhart, who has won the past two Division II six-man state championships and five of the past eight was officially hired Wednesday night to succeed Mallory.
Burkhart announced Thursday morning he has resigned to take the head football coach position at Gordon. His final day at Richland Springs will be May 3, and he will begin at Gordon on May 6.
Burkhart, who compiled an impressive 135-5 record at Richland Springs, could not be reached for comment.
However, Burkhart told the Brownwood Bulletin, “I strongly believe God opens and closes doors for you,” he said. “Richland Springs has been awesome, from the community to the fans to the administration to the school board, and especially kids.
“But we’re getting low on kids and budget cuts are happening and I’m at a place in life where I can apply for a job and feel like I have a good shot at getting it.
“I got a phone call from Gordon and everything fell into place. Here, with the way the state is, they’re going to have to make cuts.
“My wife, who is a first grade teacher, and myself both resigned from Richland Springs, so that should free up a lot of money.
“They still have some decisions to make, but they’re going to have an awesome team again next year.
“God has blessed me so much,” Burkhart continued. “(The Richland Springs) program is not about just Jerry Burkhart, it’s been all of us — the coaches, administration, school board and most of all the kids.
“They work so hard and give you all they’ve got. They believe in the program and want to win at everything they do. I’m walking away from a good situation and into a town that’s prideful of a couple of state championships of their own.
“That does make us nervous as a family and I know what the expectations are at Gordon. But it’s exciting to start something new.”
Gordon superintendent Eric Hough said the community and school district are excited about landing a coach with a pedigree as Burkhart’s.
“We are very excited that Coach Burkhart is coming to town,” he said. “He has a history of success, and Gordon has a history of success.
“He will arrive in May so our football players will get a chance to meet him and he will have a chance to settle in before the summer.
“With our returning players and with Coach Burkhart’s arrival, together we expect to do great things.”
In four years at Gordon, Mallory compiled a 25-19 record.
He went 1-9 in his first season in 2009, followed with a 6-4 record in 2010, and in 2011 led the Longhorns to an 8-2 record. Despite the 8-2 mark in 2011, the Longhorns did not qualify for the playoffs.
This past season, Mallory led the Longhorns to a 7-3 mark, including his second straight win over rival Strawn and his first-ever playoff berth as Gordon’s head coach.
The Longhorns rolled through the first three rounds of the playoffs, defeating Zephyr, 88-42 in the opening round, downing Savoy, 66-21, in the regional round and defeating Santa Anna, 70-35, in the state quarterfinals.
Gordon fell to Abbott in the state semifinals, 74-60.
By TONY EIERDAM
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