By Garth Shanklin
Roughly one month after the departure of former New Richmond head football coach Josh Stratton, the Lions have a new man at the helm of the program.
Patrick Burke was approved as the next New Richmond football coach at the school’s board of education meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 17. Burke served as the co-defensive coordinator/defensive line coach under Stratton, who accepted the head coaching job at Canal Winchester High School in mid-December, for the past two seasons.
“I was super excited to have the opportunity to lead the New Richmond Lions football program,” Burke said. “I think the community is awesome, the relationship I’ve built over the last few years has been a good one.”
New Richmond athletic director Doug Foote said in an emailed statement that Burke was the “right person” for the job, highlighting several of Burke’s skills as the catalyst.
“Patrick Burke will bring great intensity, work ethic and tremendous relationship skills to the Lions program,” Foote said. “He is extremely organized and a tremendous teacher. He is the right person to follow in the footsteps of several successful football coaches at New Richmond and the right coach to keep our program playing at the high level it is right now.”
Foote added that Burke and Stratton are similar coaches and that Burke was brought aboard by Stratton for a specific purpose.
“Coach Burke has several of the same characteristics that Coach Stratton has that has made the Lions SBAAC Champions three straight years and a state playoff qualifier two straight years,” Burke said. “Coach Stratton brought Coach Burke in two years ago knowing he would either be our next head coach or a head coach soon at another school. Coach is excited to work with a great staff of talented coaches to continue the Lion tradition.”
Burke inherits a team that won 10 games and advanced to the regional semifinals in 2016. During four seasons under Stratton, the Lions won 33 games and earned two trips to the state playoffs. Burke said the transition has been aided by the fact that every member of the Lions’ staff from 2016 except for Stratton will return in 2017.
“The transition is very smooth,” Burke said. “I had a good relationship with everybody on our staff. Our staff is returning as a whole, which is really good for us. Last year we had some success we made it to the second round of the playoffs. I don’t have to replace any of the staff.”
The Lions were led last season by sophomore quarterback Josh Anderson, who threw for 1,972 yards and 14t touchdowns while rushing for 1,172 yards and 20 more scores. Corey Bozic finished second behind Gage Kramer as the team’s leading receiver in terms of receptions, 44 to 34. Bozic had more yards, however, 668 to Kramer’s 546.
The return of those two players, along with junior running back T.J. Gelter, means Lions’ fans should see an offense similar to the one that put up 35 points in all but two games in 2016.
“We’re going to focus on fundamentals on defense and running the ball on offense,” Burke said.
Those returning players are playing a key role in the transition. Several seniors and even a few underclassmen have taken the reigns, according to Burke.
“Some underclassmen are steping up and filling that void,” Burke said. “Guys like Dan Troxell, Anderson and Bozic are the leaders. I’m really excited as we go into summer workouts how the team is shaping up and how the leadership and culture of our program is continuing to rise each and every day.”
Burke finished by noting his goal is to get everyone from the team to the staff and the New Richmond community to work toward a singular goal.
“When you talk about our team, this really has nothing to do with me,” he said. “It has to do with our players and our community and getting everyone working together to one goal. That’s my goal: create a positive and motivating environment that’s going to build up everyone from the staff to to the community.”
The New Richmond Lions are tentatively scheduled to start the 2017 football season with a home game against Indian Hill on Friday, Aug. 25, 2017.