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NC - Evanston Football

Evanston's Gavin Whittaker is wrapped up by Natrona County's Josh Harshman, left, and Chase Andersen in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs on Oct. 31, 2014 in Casper.

After three seasons as Evanston’s freshman football coach, Jim Burton has graduated to the big time. Burton was offered the Evanston head football coach job on Monday and is set to become the 26th football coach in program history.

“I’m super excited, super grateful to the administration for the opportunity and grateful to (former head coach) Pat Fackrell for the opportunity to join his staff,” Burton told the Star-Tribune. “And I’m super excited to move forward.”

Burton takes over for Fackrell, who resigned in March after nine seasons. That was the second-longest head-coaching tenure in program history after Fackrell’s father, Kay, spent 18 years at the helm of the program.

The younger Fackrell hired Burton before the start of the 2016 season. During that time as an assistant Burton learned about keeping athletes excited about football during their freshman and junior varsity years, which he hopes can carry over to the head coaching role.

“That’s a big, important part of what we do moving forward and keeping young kids around,” he said. “We have to keep them excited about playing Red Devil football.”

Burton also learned from hardships, like in his first year on staff when Evanston went 0-9. Weeks into the season it was determined the program would drop to 3A the following year and excitement for the remaining season at hand quickly dropped.

“It’s a hard thing to do when you’re the size we are and have the things we had,” he said. “We had a pretty good group of kids that year, there just weren’t enough of them. That was a tough year, very hard on us.”

Since that season Evanston has gone 10-8, including a promising 6-4 season last year. Burton described the most recent campaign as a “breath of fresh air” and hopes to continue the program in that trajectory. He also said he sees Fackrell as a mentor and will likely seek the former head coach’s opinion from time to time.

Off-season weight-room sessions began on Monday at Evanston and summer football camps have already been arranged.

Burton currently serves as a seventh-grade science teacher at Davis Middle School, where he’s spent years coaching football and wrestling, according to a Facebook post made by the Uinta County Herald on Tuesday. His personal history of coaching now-varsity football players helped build his excitement for the job, which he interviewed for on Friday.

“The players, the athletes are a source of joy,” Burton said. “Those relationships are great. I’ve taught those kids, I’ve coached those kids, and that drive to take them to the next level is really why I applied.”

Evanston has a scheduled open date to start the 2019 season before starting the regular season on the road at Rawlins in Week 1. The Red Devils’ home opener comes the following week against Riverton.

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Follow sports reporter Brady Oltmans on Twitter @BradyOltmans

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High School Sports Reporter

Brady Oltmans reports on high school and local sports. He joined the Star-Tribune in July 2016 after covering prep sports and college soccer in Nebraska. He also contributes to University of Wyoming sports coverage. He and his dog live in Casper.

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