JD Burnett is no stranger to turning a high school football program around.
He did it at Yosemite, with his teams going 9-4 and 9-1 the past two seasons after 0-9 his first season in Oakhurst in 2015.
He’s looking to do the same at McLane, where his Highlanders are off to a 2-0 start.
“Everybody wants to see our football program succeed,” Burnett said. “The kids are really buying in and selling out and doing anything that they can to be successful. Things are going really well.
“There are really good adults here right now that care about the school and are trying to do good things for the kids here and we have a lot of kids that want someone good in their life and I’m just trying to do everything I can do to provide that for them.”
The 2-0 start is McLane’s best since it went 5-0 in 1995. The next year, the Highlanders were 10-2, according to Central Section historian Bob Barnett. There hasn’t been that type of success since.
Burnett said he’s not worried about those type of records. He wants to see his team keep improving and the task at hand, which is a home game against Exeter on Friday night.
“I only care what we’re doing and what Exeter is doing right now,” he said. “I know Exeter is 1-1 and they really got a good small school program over there and they play good football and they execute. It’s going to be a tough challenge for us and I’m looking forward to our kids playing against them.”
Roosevelt, under first-time head coach Vince Branstetter, beat Firebaugh 14-7 last week to give the school its first 3-0 start since 1951. The Rough Riders won five straight that year and finished 6-1-1 under coach Walt Byrd, Barnett said.
The Rough Riders will carry the undefeated record against host Granite Hills in Porterville on Friday.
Other games to watch:
Sunnyside (0-3) at Clovis East (2-1) – Ryan Hunt had 48 carries for 277 yards and a touchdown in Clovis East’s 14-8 victory over Sanger. Hunt’s 48 carries is a school record and the fourth most in section history, Barnett said.
Next up for the Timberwolves is the Wildcats who are looking for their first win.
“Sunnyside has some really good players,” Clovis East coach Ryan Reynolds said. “We are a couple plays away from being 0-3. I told the guys don’t be satisfied with what we’ve done so far.”
Chowchilla (2-1) at Central Valley Christian (2-1) – The small-school powers have split 10 straight seasons of nonleague matchups. The series started after Chowchilla won a spirited 2007 playoff meeting.
“Every year that we play Chowchilla I seem to think that this game really tells us who we are as a football team,” CVC coach Mason Hughes said. “They are always really physical, always well-coached, and they make you earn every inch. They never quit and they always have hearts of champions no matter their record. “
Kingsburg (2-1) at Kerman (2-1) – The Vikings are averaging 40 points a game. The Lions suffered their first defeat last week to Madera, 48-30.
“Kerman is a well-coached team,” Kingsburg coach David Wilson said. “They present a lot of challenges for us. We are going to have to prepare and play really well for Friday. We are looking forward to the challenge.”
Milestone win – Tulare Union coach Darren Bennett notched his 200th win (in 29 seasons) after the Tribe defeated Redwood 67-20. He becomes the 10th coach in Central Section history to reach 200, Barnett said.
Notable achievements – Mt. Whitney quarterback Jaedyn Pineda tied a school record with six touchdown passes in a 58-16 victory over Hoover.
Tulare Western defensive back Jordan Burrell had three interceptions to set a school record in a 35-0 win over Lemoore.