Haines City's Barber, Landmark's Burdon Resign as Football Coaches
Wed. November 14, 2012 at 11:03 p.m. | By Solange Reyner
By SOLANGE REYNER
LAKELAND | Pete Barber, the head football coach at Haines City High School for the last five seasons, and Mark Burdon, the winningest high school football coach at Landmark Christian, resigned their posts on Monday.
Barber's team finished 1-9 this year and 0-4 in Class 7A, District 5. Burdon's Patriots, who are set to compete in an FHSAA district starting next year, went 10-0 but had to miss the playoffs in its conference because of a scheduling technicality.
Burdon was the head coach at Landmark for the past seven years. He leaves with a 64-14 overall record and a Sunshine State Athletic Conference championship title.
Landmark, which has competed as an independent program in the FHSAA the last two years, was ready to defend that title this season until it was told it couldn't move forward with a semifinal playoff game on Nov. 9 because it had not completed its entire season within a 10-game regular season schedule.
"Independent schools/conferences do not get extra games beyond the 10 to conduct their playoffs," Corey Sobers, the Public Relations Specialist with the FHSAA, said.
Burdon said he was moving on to explore other coaching opportunities because he didn't feel like Landmark's administration was truly on board with the move to the FHSAA.
"I felt like we were taking strides toward that but it felt like they weren't wanting to do certain things necessary in the future to make our program bigger and better," Burdon said during a phone interview Tuesday afternoon. "But it's not like there was any ill will there, it was a mutual decision and we left on good terms. I still love the school and we had great success while I was there."
Burdon said he would apply for the current openings in Polk County.
"It was known around here that this year was his last go around with us," said Rocker, who also addressed rumors circulating that Landmark was thinking of pulling the plug on its football program.
"We might stay Independent and not join a district," Rocker said. "A big part of that was the numbers dropping and Burdon leaving. It was a big dream of ours to go district but we'll meet again in the next few weeks to decide whether we'll do that."
The effects of Burdon stepping away are already being felt. Three starters transferred schools in the last week-and-a-half, including Nydarius Roberts, Keland White and Jawuan Mathis.
"I don't really know why they left but it comes on the announcement of him resigning," Rocker said.
Haines City's administration sent out a note regarding Barber stepping down but wouldn't answer follow-up questions from The Ledger as to the reason why.
Barber said he had a meeting Monday with the Haines City athletic director and principal where he talked about things he felt would help the team be more competitive.
"After I left the conversation it was pretty evident it was time to step away," Barber said during a phone interview late Wednesday.
He mentioned an activity bus "to help players get home after practice," and football weightlifting classes for athletes.
"Those are things that most of the teams in this county have. Hopefully the next coach can get those things and that will help the program," Barber said.
For now, Barber said he's going to sit back to see if some opportunities arise.
"But right now I have my hands full with a 4-year-old and a 6-year-old," he said.