Burton High School effectively canceled its 2012 varsity football season earlier this month, but coach Anthony Rollins, who would be entering his fourth year at the helm of the program, has a lone message for the rest of the Academic Athletic Association.
“Don’t count us out,” Rollins said.
The decision by Rollins, which he admitted was embarrassing but necessary, is also a reversal of what he views as self-destructive practices of the past.
Instead of straining to field a varsity team with young players not ready to face mature competition, sacrificing the developmental qualities of a junior varsity team, Rollins has decided to do the opposite.
With only a single senior and three juniors returning from last year’s varsity, he sacrificed the varsity season for the good of the program. Instead of pushing inexperienced underclassmen up for the sole reason of sustaining a varsity team, Rollins has chosen to develop the nearly 40 players that entered as freshmen last season against junior varsity competition.
"We’ve got into a self-perpetuating cycle,” Rollins said. “Everybody said that we had to have a varsity team and that was the most important thing, and I understand that, but it was killing our crops.”
With the recent success of Mission, which had to cancel its 2009 AAA season then went on to win a Turkey Bowl championship last season, Rollins has a blueprint to turn things around quickly, but history does not favor the Pumas.
Since 2002, Burton has gone 13-53 in the AAA, has never made the postseason and has never had a winning record.