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Burkholder Takes Over at Southwestern

Things couldn’t have gone any better for Jake Burkholder, the new head football coach at Southwestern. The former Trojan (’06) took over late last Friday night after Jehuu Caulcrick resigned. Since then his team has been focused on continuing their undefeated season and winning the Section VI Class C title.

Burkholder has been with the Trojans the past five seasons and was named a varsity assistant coach and defensive coordinator this year. Southwestern has given up just 16 points all season and have three shutout victories.

Burkholder’s head coaching philosophy is not much different than Caulcrick’s. “My philosophy is to help guide these young men to become successful both on and off the field,” Burkholder said. “There are high expectations both on and off the field. Consistency and accountability are huge.”

Burkholder will not be making any changes to the daily routines, weekly practice schedule and video sessions. “Football is X’s and O’s. Our weekly schedule in terms of preparation is going to stay the same. The biggest obstacle for me personally is going to be the backend duties that I now have to take care of. The coaching staff here at Southwestern is excellent and we work together to ensure that our student athletes are provided with the best opportunity to succeed. The support that we provide to each other and the support from our amazing administration at Southwestern will help to alleviate many of the challenges that we may face.”

The first major hurdle would have been a road game at Gowanda tonight but earlier in the week Burkholder was informed that the Panthers would not have enough healthy players to participate, handing the Trojans a victory by forfeit. While the official score is 1-0, Southwestern will receive +20 on their point differential when it comes time for playoff seedings.

Even better news for Southwestern is the forfeit gives their players an extra week of rest before they close out the season next week at home against Cassadaga Valley/Falconer. Last week against Lackawanna senior Conrad Thomas was limited due to some soreness so the time off to rest could not have come at a better time for him.

With the loss of Caulcrick the current coaching staff will have increased responsibilities. “The roles are going to stay very similar. The culture that we have built here at Southwestern is based on consistency and that will continue to be the approach.”

Burkholder is not worried about his long term future with Southwestern. He and his staff are focused on finishing what they started long ago and that is winning a state title at the Carrier Dome.

“At the current time, my main concern and focus is leading these kids that have put countless hours of hard work toward a state title. I will turn the focus to next year once the season has concluded. I think that I have been able to absorb a great amount of knowledge and experience from individuals that have coached me in the past as well individuals that I have coached with during my tenure.”

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