Franklinton names Burris head football coach, Barber AD

Published 6:59 am Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Franklinton defensive coordinator Stephen Burris has been named the school’s new football coach and Jonathan Barber is the school’s athletic director.

“It’s a big challenge for me. Being here for 19.5 years, it’s been kind of a long journey to get to this process to get where I am,” Burris said. “It’s going to be a challenge because we’re going to be young next year and I’m also taking over for a guy who had the most success they ever had in the history of the school (Shane Smith). You’ve got that and then you have our schedule, which is not exactly easy.”

Burris said it is a challenge he looks forward to facing.

“It’s what I always wanted to do, so here I am,” Burris said.

Burris added that he was very excited when he learned he was the Demons’ new coach. Burris replaces Shane Smith, who recently joined the coaching staff at Southeastern Louisiana University.

“It’s been my dream to be the head coach of Franklinton High School,” Burris said. “I’ve had one job my entire life. I chose to come back here when I got out of college. I’ve been under two head coaches and never wanted to be anywhere else. The money isn’t the best in the world here, but this is my home. Getting to lead your alma mater and your hometown is a big honor.”

Burris brings plenty of coaching experience to the position — all at Franklinton.

Burris, who enters his 20th season with the Demons, has been the defensive coordinator for the last 17 years. Prior to that, he spent time as the passing game coordinator, wide receiver coach and defensive backs coach.

In the regular season last year, the Demons’ defense allowed just 198 yards per game and teams averaged only 13.5 points per contest. Franklinton’s defense did a great job of forcing turnovers. They had 19 turnovers — 12 interceptions and seven fumble recoveries.

Burris, a 1991 graduate of Franklinton High School, said it has been a pretty easy transition.

“I was born and raised here. My great-great-grandpa was the first mayor of Franklinton, so I know 90 percent of the people in the community,” Burris said. “I’ve coached every kid that’s been here and now it’s getting to where I went to school with a lot of these kids’ parents. It’s a pretty easy transition because everybody knows you.

“I guess I’ve done a pretty good job as the DC over the years, so I have the respect of the kids and I have the respect of the town.”

Franklinton principal Lisa Tanner said Burris is the right guy for the job.

“He’s been here for 20 years. He is an expert on the defensive side of the ball,” Tanner said. “He has shown that he is ready and has what it takes to take us to the next level. He is also a Franklinton High School graduate, so he knows about tradition and how the program’s been run. The program has had success and he’ll continue to take it in that direction.”

Burris will also coach the linebackers and Barber, the new athletic director, will be the defensive coordinator.

Barber, a 2003 Franklinton High graduate, said being the athletic director is a new challenge.

“I’ve been doing a lot of the stuff for a while as far as paperwork and things like that,” Barber said. “I look forward to working with the coaches and helping assist them any way I can as far as scheduling, planning and things like that.

“For instance, tonight (Monday), we have the athletic banquet going on. It’s taking a good deal of time to plan, but I look forward to it.”

Barber has been coaching for nine years and has coached the defensive backs for the last seven.

He said being the defensive coordinator is another challenge he’s looking forward to.

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I finally get the opportunity to somewhat develop my game plans. With the assistance of coach Burris, hopefully, we can make the best out of them,” Barber said.

Barber said he’s learned a ton from Burris.

“It’s funny, coach Shane (Smith) was my position coach in high school and coach Burris was the defensive coordinator when I was here,” he said. “I would say that 99 percent of the football I’ve learned has been from coach Smith or coach Burris, so I’ve learned a ton from him especially over the last seven years, working with the him, developing game plans.

“He’s given me a lot of freedom in the secondary as far as being able to change different things and experiment with different things. He’s been great as far as bringing me along and I think I’m ready for the challenge of calling my own defensive plays  — of course, with his assistance — but I’m definitely looking forward to that opportunity.”

Tanner said she decided to separate head football coach and athletic director since both are demanding jobs.

“I chose Jonathan to be the athletic director because he has been instrumental in getting the players registered with the LHSAA and eligible to play. He has helped out in that area for years,” Tanner said.