When Edinburgh found itself with an unexpected coaching vacancy at the top of its football program last month, athletics director David Walden had a pretty good idea who he wanted to hire.
This week, Walden officially got his man.
Jason Burton, a 2011 Edinburgh graduate who recently coached the Lancers to a sectional championship in his first season as the baseball coach, was approved by the school board as the new head football coach.
He replaces Derrick Ball, who posted a 5-15 record in his two seasons.
Burton, 24, had worked on the staff of former Edinburgh coach Bill Unsworth from 2011 through 2014 and was an assistant at Seymour in 2015. He had expressed an interest in replacing Unsworth two years ago, but Walden wasn’t yet ready to hand him the reins.
“I just thought at that time he was still a little too young to take over a program,” Walden said.
Burton’s success this spring in baseball — the Lancers finished 12-12-1 and outscored their opponents in the Class A Morristown Sectional by a combined 25-1 margin — helped convince the Edinburgh administration that the young coach could be counted on to run a program.
His work with baseball and football players in the weight room during the winter also made an impression.
“That was something else that really caught my eye,” Walden said.
And while most coaches in their 20s might view a job at a small school as a stepping stone to something else, Burton seems intent on sticking around.
“Being a hometown guy, I’d like to stay here and help developing something for this community to be proud of,” he said.
“I don’t think Edinburgh is a destination stop for people,” Walden added, “but I think it is for Jason.”
Burton has already met with the local youth and middle school coaches in the football community. He’s hopeful that he can turn the Lancers into consistent winners, but cautions that it will take some time.
“We haven’t had consistent success for a very long time,” Burton said, “so to say we’re going to come in and turn it around in one year is ridiculous.”
Some progress has been made in recent years. Edinburgh is 20-42 over the last six seasons under Ball and Unsworth after totaling just six victories, one of those by forfeit, against 133 losses between 1997 and 2010.