ASHEVILLE – The feeling is not very familiar.
David Burdette still remembers the last losing season for Asheville High football (1987) and he doesn’t want to go there again.
The 1988 Cougars graduate was named their next coach on Thursday afternoon.
Burdette, 45, is the replacement for Danny Wilkins who retired in late-November with the most wins in school history (162). Wilkins had been the team’s coach since the 2000 season.
“There is a lot of excitement, obviously,” Burdette said.
“Danny has done such a great job and (another former Asheville coach Lou Fogle did such a great job before him. I’m lucky enough that I got to work for both of them. I have learned so much. The kids were excited when they found out I got the job, I think they wanted it the whole time. I’m excited and I’m nervous about the opportunity. The year I graduated was the last losing season for us and we don’t want to go back to that.”
Burdette has been the Cougars’ defensive coordinator since 2011 and was their assistant defensive coordinator from 2000 to 2011.
“David’s loyalty and dedication to Asheville High along with years of experience as a coordinator will serve the program well,” said Asheville athletic director Lance Abernathy.
“He also has a strong proven track record in the classroom. David has been an integral part of a staff who has coached a consistent, winning program. Burdette met with returning players earlier (Thursday) and they are excited about the future.”
Asheville football teams under Burdette’s watch have gone 146-36-1 with 14 conference championships in 17 years. The Cougars won the NCHSAA 3-A championship in 2005.
Asheville City Schools said it received 46 applications for the coaching job, a process that began shortly after Wilkins retired.
“I have been blessed to work with a championship staff led by two outstanding head coaches – Lou Fogle and Danny Wilkins,” Burdette wrote during his application process.
“I learned firsthand how to run a first-rate program. But most important, this experience has taught me how to mentor young men in today’s society.”
Asheville Principal Joyce Best said that the eight-person search committee for the school’s new coach consisted of school and district administrators, as well as representatives from the Cougars’ booster club and coaching staff, a parent and a student.
“We are confident that Coach Burdette was the right choice and we look forward to continuing our winning tradition,” Best said.