Growing up on Long Island, Anthony Burgos was steeped in two sports that make him a good fit in Baltimore – football and lacrosse.
He played both at Nassau Community College in Garden City, N.Y. His lacrosse team won the national junior college title at CCBC-Essex in 1997, where the lacrosse coach at Western Maryland College (now McDaniel College) in Westminster spotted him and recruited him to play for the Green Terror.
At Western Maryland, Burgos continued to play both sports. A cornerback, he went to the NCAA Division III playoffs three times with the Green Terror, which was 30-0 in regular-season play during his three-year tenure. A midfielder for the lacrosse team, he went on to coach Green Terror lacrosse before taking the job as football coach at Franklin where he is a physical education teacher.
In his ninth season with the Indians, Burgos, 35, has compiled a 63-41 record and guided them to the playoffs six straight times. They reached the state semifinals in 2006 and the Class 3A title game in 2010 where they fell to Wilde Lake, 21-14.
The No. 10 Indians (2-1) fell to Wise, 20-0, in their season opener and then beat Eastern Tech and Hereford. Friday night, they face a key showdown with defending Baltimore County 4A-3A Division champ and No. 7 Catonsville (3-0) at home at 7 p.m.
As this week’s Coachspeak guest, Burgos answers five questions about the Indians, maintaining a winning program and his coaching philosophy.
What have you seen that you really like about this team?
There’s tremendous athleticism on this team. We definitely have the potential for big plays. With so many talented players, it’s just a matter of figuring out how to keep everybody happy. That’s been one of our tasks this year. When you have that many players who can do some special things with the ball, it’s tough to even it out and keep everybody happy. We’ve got some top seniors in the Ellis brothers (Reggie and Maquis) and then we have Taurus Bruton, who’s a junior. We have the Adams brothers (Jacquez and Jordan) and Kiandre Burrell and Maurice McFadden, who are all sophomores, and then we have two freshmen who are standouts for us, Steven Smothers and Drew Lawrence.
What’s the greatest challenge early in the season with such a young group?
It’s just kind of getting them all to play as a team and getting them to understand that we’ve got to work hard Monday through Thursday in order for our results to show on Friday. I think with a young team and a team that’s coming in that hasn’t seen the hard work that’s been put in, it’s making sure the young guys know there was a lot of hard work put in to get Franklin to where we are at this moment.
How do you maintain a successful program in an area where many of the top young players are recruited to private schools?
I think we’re doing a tremendous job just keeping the local talent local. Academically, I think Franklin High School can compete, so from an academic standpoint where parents are not just all about the athletics, I think our principal (Patrick) McCusker has done a tremendous job making sure our academic standards are set pretty high. The second part is we’ve been fortunate to have an Ian Thomas and a Carl Fleming, guys who have gone on to the next level. I think the economy helped us. I think overall parents are saying now, “Why pay this amount of money when we can send our kid here and they can accomplish all their goals.” The third part is the coaching staff. I’ve had the same coaching staff in place for eight years. We’ve added one or two guys here or there, but the core coaching staff has stayed the same. I think we are now embedded in the community and everybody’s following. We have a great support system from our boosters to our parents to our fans to our student body. I think it’s all come together and it’s a start for good things.
Why did you want to be a high school football coach and is it what you expected it to be?
I decided I guess around my sophomore year in high school that I wanted to coach. Obviously football was my first love, growing up playing football since 6. I had a teacher who was a teacher and a coach and I said, "Hey, this looks like a pretty good life he’s living" and I also wanted to help kids. I’ve always been good working at camps, so I always enjoyed doing stuff with the game being around young kids. As I got older, I thought lacrosse was what I was going to do. I really enjoyed coaching lacrosse and I didn’t really want to coach college football at that time when I left Western Maryland, so I got into coaching lacrosse. My wife convinced me to give Franklin a shot when the job was open. It’s been challenging a times. I was fortunate enough as the youngest of five to be brought up in that old-school mentality, so it’s been difficult sometimes dealing with the way some of these kids are being brought up now with more entitlement going on and not really making sure that they earn what they get. That part’s been tough, but I think our kids at Franklin are doing a great job working through that. We’re just trying to keep them accountable and raise good young men.
What is your coaching philosophy and how did that develop?
I had some great coaches. I try to really emphasize not trying to reinvent the game. I’ve been fortunate to be around some great guys that mentored me, Al Thomas being one of them. He was my defensive coordinator in college. I have the philosophy that if you go out and you work hard every day, you’re going to make mistakes but as long as you learn from your mistakes, you can be successful. The other thing is that football is not about the Xs and Os and winning. It’s about what you learn from this game that will carry you through life, so that’s what I kind of preach to the guys. If I’m doing that, winning will take care of itself, but we’re developing good young citizens who learn that sometimes you’ve got to work hard.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun