Shon Burney, the first-year head coach at LeFlore High School, was fired Friday morning after his only season on the job, he said.
The Rattlers were 0-10 this past season, the 11th consecutive losing season for the program. Burney wasn’t hired until mid-July and was relieved of his duties on Nov. 19.
“It was a complete surprise, and I can’t emphasize that enough,” Burney said of the decision. “I was told when I took the job it wasn’t about wins and losses. I was told I would be given an opportunity to build a program. I was hired in the middle of July and I’m relieved of my duties at the end of November. So this is not about wins and losses and building a program — and the program is growing despite losing all those games. It was an inexperienced team, a freshman quarterback, the whole nine.
“We’re about to get a new stadium and this thing is about to take off. The people I feel sorry for are these kids. I feel sorry for these kids because they are about to have their third head coach in less than a year. That’s what gets loss in the shuffle, because these kids are hurting right now. They’re hurting. It’s not fair to them. Forget about me and my family and the situation I’ve been put in. … I should at least get a full year or two years, but I get four months.”
A phone call was placed to Dr. Antonio Williams’ office, the principal at LeFlore, but a return call has not been received.
Burney took over after Christopher Raymond, in his second stint as head coach of the Rattlers, resigned following back-to-back 1-9 seasons. Anthony Shamburger was head coach of the Rattlers from 2012-18, posting a record of 22-50 during his time. Raymond, in his first stint as head coach at the school from 2008-11 was 19-26.
LeFlore has had just one winning season in the past 17 seasons, that being a 6-5 mark in 2010. The Rattlers have not reached the playoffs since 2013.
“I was told Dr. Williams had decided he was going to go in another direction,” Burney said of the meeting Friday morning in which he was told he had been relieved of his duties.
Burney said he was told he could re-apply for the position. “If I’ve got to re-apply that means I don’t have it,” he said.
This was Burney’s second head coaching position. He was head coach at Talladega County Central from 2009-10, posting an overall record of 8-13.
“The staff that we had was so young … So we were a young team with a young inexperienced staff, a first-year defensive coordinator and me in my first year head coach at this school at a program that has struggled to win for decades,” Burney said. “The vision is solid, the steps are solid, it’s just people are impatient.
“The biggest knock on me was that I wasn’t from LeFlore, I didn’t play at LeFlore. No, I didn’t. I came from a damn good high school program that I played at and I came from several damn good programs that I coached at. By my not being from LeFlore that rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. Some people never got a chance for me to get to know them. But anywhere else, people are given at least a year or two years (to develop a program). I’ve been on the job since the middle of July. It’s the middle of November and I am told I’ve been relieved of my duties. It’s not fair; it’s not fair and it’s not right.”
Burney said he didn’t know what his immediate plans were, but he did say this experience may lead him to leaving coaching.
“I guess they figure with a new stadium coming in they can get a bigger name or a LeFlore graduate or something. I don’t know. … Kids have to learn how to win. This senior class has won five games in four years (5-35). But you expect me to get it changed in four months? … I’ll be honest with you, I’m probably done coaching. … I’ve done it for 20 years and I was at a place I felt like I was supposed to be at. This one hurts. Honestly, I don’t know what I want to do right now.”
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