Hall of Fame football coach Jack Burger has stepped down from his varsity position at Troy High School after guiding the Flying Horses to seven Section II championships and a pair of state titles in a superb 19-year run.
The 56-year-old Burger, who played at the University at Albany and, before that, at Newburgh Free Academy, announced his decision Tuesday.
“I’ve had 33 good years at Troy,” he said. “Twenty-nine as a coach, 19 as a head coach. All good things come to an end.”
Burger led the Troy varsity for 12 years ending in 2001, and returned in 2007, with each of his last five teams capturing league championships. His 2009 squad made it to the Section II Class A final and his 2010 group reached the state Class AA title game and finished 12-1.
“People ask me why I stayed at Troy for so long. I felt like I was helping those kids, and it was the right fit for me,” said Burger. “The Troy community adopted me as one of their own, and I cannot express how appreciative I am. Now, I’m moving on to the next phase.”
Burger retired as a business teacher at the end of the last school year.
“I was hoping I’d be able to work in some capacity in the high school, but with all of the budget cuts, that never materialized,” he said. “I’m still going to work somewhere. I have to work. I’m not ready to kick back and put my feet up. I felt the boys deserved a head coach that could be there every day, and I felt to do it now would make for an easier transition.
“The program is in a good position. There’s a great coaching staff. The junior varsity won the Super Bowl. The modified team went undefeated. Everything is in place.”
Burger took Troy to places it had never been. From 1993 through 2001, his teams reached seven section Section II championship games and won six of them, including five in a row from 1996-2000 to equal the Section II record. His Flying Horses advanced to four consecutive state finals (1996-99) and prevailed in 1996 (Class A) and 1998 (Class AA).
That 1998 team was one of six Burger led to double-digit victories, finishing 12-1, and he was tabbed the state’s Class AA Coach of the Year. Another significant honor came his way back in August when he was inducted into the Capital Region Football Hall of Fame.
“We won a lot of games and had some great success, but there’s so many other things,” Burger said. “You remember the time you spent with the staff and the hundreds of kids you were around, and in ways other than football, that you had an impact on.
“I want to thank all of those kids for the effort and the respect they gave. Although I’d like to, I can’t talk to all of them, but I want them to know it’s greatly appreciated.”
Following the 2001 season, Burger took time out to follow the athletic career of his son Matt and daughter Niki, but kept his hand in the game. He coached JV football at Troy in 2002 and served as a volunteer assistant at Cohoes the next two years.
Burger’s teams went 144-52-1, with the last seven going 55-13. Troy went 6-3 this past season and lost to Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake twice, in a four-overtime regular season game and again in the Section II Class A semifinals.
“What am I going to do on Friday nights?” Burger asked. “Probably go watch football.”