Basha football coach Tim McBurney had the rare experience of coaching virtually the same team for four consecutive seasons. His group of seniors — the Bears will lose 28 after this season — were the first in the program’s short history.
"The kids have done what we’ve asked and have worked extremely hard to turn this school into a contender," said McBurney, whose team lost to Hamilton 28-3 in the first round of the 5A Division I playoffs last week. "We have a long way to go, but I’m proud of where we’re at."
His son, Shane, is one of those players.
"If I had to do this over again I’d do it again," Shane said.
"Five years ago, when I left Tempe, we made a family decision to do this, not knowing what was going to come of it," Tim said, adding that he would also take another run with Shane if he could.
In their first full season of 5A football, Tim and Shane McBurney led the Bears further than many preseason prognosticators believed likely — a 6-5 record and a playoff berth.
Shane McBurney said the team adjusted well to the addition of a new spread-option offense, similar to the scheme Utah used during its Fiesta Bowl run last year.
"(The coaches) went to Texas Tech and Utah and some others last year to check them out," he said, adding that his dad even allowed him to give some input.
McBurney, a mobile, athletic quarterback with nominal arm strength, thrived in the system, along with backs Danny Keenan and Jeff Whitlock and wideouts Matt Hibbert and Justin Evans.
McBurney threw for 1,400 yards and rushed for 431 and six touchdowns in the regular season.
STILL MAKING CATCHES
Gilbert High’s top receiver this season, Bryan McDaniel, was shut out last week in the Tigers’ 28-25 win over Glendale Mountain Ridge.
He was blanked as a receiver. Not a defender.
The Tigers can overlook McDaniel’s offensive goose egg because of the two snags he came up with on defense.
McDaniel’s two interceptions in the third quarter helped Gilbert begin a comeback from a 10-0 halftime deficit and ultimately to a victory and quarterfinal matchup with No. 1 seed Westwood on Friday.
Gymnast Micki Cole, a senior at Paradise Valley, will sign a letter of intent to compete at Alaska-Anchorage next season on a full-ride scholarship.