COLLEGE PARK — Cap Burnett’s first year as head coach at North Clayton High was an overwhelming success, making him the Clayton News’ choice for Coach of the Year for the 2016 football season.
The Eagles advanced to the state playoffs and won five games for the first time since 2011. North Clayton won just three games last season before Burnett took over the program.
“I was very, very happy. I felt really blessed to come out the way we did especially when a lot of people counted us out and didn’t think we’d do anything,” said Burnett regarding the season. “The boys bought in. You’re going to have ups and downs in a season, but overall, the guys and coaches bought in and we put it together and had a successful season. With my competitive nature, we wanted to win more, but overall, it’s truly a blessing, man, to see the guys and my assistant coaches put in the hard work and it pay off for them.”
Burnett’s influence on his Alma Mater was evident this season. The Eagles established a hard-nosed defensive persona, holding opponents to 20 or less points in six of their 11 games. North Clayton did so despite playing with significantly lower numbers than its opponents, often times taking the field with just 40 players on the sideline.
The Eagles opened up the season with a humbling 40-12 loss to Riverdale before beating Washington 30-7 on Aug. 26. North Clayton then hit the road to take on Central-Carrollton, pulling off a 12-7 victory that Burnett believes set the tone for the rest of the season.
“When we went up to Central-Carrollton coming out of that Riverdale game the very first game, it was ugly,” he said. “That Central-Carrollton game, that was that game you travel, that’s a game they expected to win and blow us out. The atmosphere was something the guys haven’t experienced. Defensively, for the guys to step up because offensively we were down the game, but for the guys to rally and trust each other and to say we have each other’s backs no matter what, to see everybody come together especially in that atmosphere, that was a big moment.”
North Clayton is ahead of schedule early in Burnett’s tenure, and will look to take another step in the right direction next season. Burnett said he feels no pressure moving into the offseason and is looking forward to returning North Clayton to the prominence it enjoyed in years past.
“You would think there would be a lot of pressure, but I’m a God-fearing man and a praying man, so I don’t put pressure on myself because for what’s next for me and the football program is what it’s going to be,” he said. “I’m going to continue to build and the one thing I will say is that from the administrators was how good the boys were in the classroom. When you handle off the field stuff, the on the field stuff, going to the playoffs, will take care of itself.”
Others Considered: Edgar Carson, Lovejoy; Terry Herrod, Riverdale; Tim Floyd, Jonesboro