BY STEVE KRAH
Jason Burton coached his alma mater — Edinburgh High School in south central Indiana — to an IHSAA sectional baseball championship in his first season as head coach in 2017.
Burton, who is also coming off his first season as head football coach at the school of about 270 students, had originally stepped down in baseball.
“I’m involved at so much at the school, I was going to take a year or two away,” says Burton, who was a substitute teacher and helper in the athletic department while still in college and is now a middle school special education teacher and high school varsity assistant girls basketball coach in addition to his head coaching duties.
But he is back in charge after baseball and football assistant Greg Mose left to become head football coach at Southern Wells.
On the diamond, the 2017 Edinburgh Lancers (12-12) beat Morristown and Greenwood Christian Academy to win the Class 1A Morristown Sectional then lost to eventual semistate runner-up Indianapolis Lutheran in the first round of the Morristown Regional.
Edinburgh, part of the Edinburgh Community School Corporation, had last reigned as sectional baseball champions in 2011, Burton’s senior season playing for Todd Tatlock.
Burton credits Tatlock, who was an All-American at Indiana State University in 1995, for passing on many baseball lessons.
“He taught me things I was able to implement into my own coaching,” says Burton. “Attention to detail is the big thing.
“It’s having a purpose for every single aspect of the game. Every minute we’re at practice is about productivity.”
The same is true for all the sports Burton coaches.
Former Lancers head football coach Bill Unsworth provided guidance about both the management and structural sides of that game.
Burton went to Ivy Tech Community College of Columbus and then earned an elementary education degree from Indiana University Purdue University Columbus in 2016. While still in college, he was already coaching football on Unsworth’s staff and helping head coaches Cole Zook and Mike Bryant in baseball.
At a school as small as Edinburgh, the three-sport athlete is a necessity to keep programs going.
In June, it’s not unusual for athletes to take part in three sports. After the IHSAA moratorium period in early July, the focus turns to fall sports.
“They go from one thing to another,” says Burton. “We have a small pool to pull kids from.
“Freshmen that are not necessarily for varsity completion are going against 18-year-olds.”
Assisted by Dennis Smith, Kevin Johnson, John Henderson and Eric Cravens, Burton will guide a baseball program through a full varsity schedule and partial junior varsity slate. The Lancers currently have six JV games scheduled.
While a few players in the community play travel baseball, it is the Town of Edinburgh Park & Recreation League that serves as a feeder program with players from age 3 to 15.
“I have a large say with what goes on with that,” says Burton, who has younger players learning the same philosophies and terminology used at the high school.
Since Edinburgh is located in three counties — Bartholomew, Johnson and Shelby — many different communities are served by the league.
Not far from the building shared by high school and middle school is Steve Hollenbeck Athletic Complex, home to Lancer baseball, football, softball, tennis and facilities.
Edinburgh belongs to the small-school Mid-Hoosier Conference (along with Hauser, Morristown, North Decatur, South Decatur, Southwestern of Shelbyville and Waldron) and is in a 1A sectional group with Greenwood Christian Academy, Indianapolis Lutheran, Morristown, Southwestern and Waldron.
Burton says he would like the IHSAA to come up with a way to seed the sectional so the two best teams don’t meet in the first round of the sectional.
“It could be based off record or a point system with strength of schedule,” says Burton. “It would take everybody getting on-board with it.”
Burton is single. Parents Tim and Angie and older sister Jessica all live in the Edinburgh area.
Jason Burton is the head baseball coach at his alma mater — Edinburgh High School. (Jerrica Smith Photo)
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