Father leads Enterprise against son’s team

Published 5:00 am Friday, September 16, 2005

Win or lose tonight, the Burns family will still love oneanother. Kay Burns, the matriarch of the Burns household, will makecertain that the Enterprise-West Lincoln football game is left onthe gridiron.

Her husband, Roe Burns, is head coach of the Enterprise FightingYellow Jackets. Her oldest son, Brooks, is head coach of the WestLincoln Bears. Their teams clash tonight on West Lincoln’s PerryMiller Field.

Last year, Burns was offensive coordinator at Enterprise whenhis son’s Bears battled the Jackets. This time, the 58-year-oldBurns is the boss. His 32-year-old son is in his second year atWest Lincoln where the struggling football program began sevenyears ago.

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Obviously, interest is high in both communities as the Class 1Aschools battle for bragging rights. It’s been three weeks since afootball game was played, due to Hurricane Katrina.

The game originally was scheduled for Sept. 9. Where will KayBurns sit during the game?

“I haven’t really asked her,” replied Roe Burns. “My wife wasnot thrilled about me going back into coaching.”

His youngest son, Brodie, is an equipment manager with the OleMiss football team. The Rebels had an open date last week so he wasmaking the long drive from Oxford to see the game.

“Brodie got to come home last week because it was an open dateat Ole Miss,” said Roe. “They were going to sit on the West Lincolnside and pull for Brooks. I know she would rather see Brooks wininstead of me.”

The elder Burns has been coaching football for 32 years. Hespent 20 years coaching at Loyd Star before taking a briefretirement. He had spent eight earlier years at Pascagoula.

Roe and Kay have been married 34 years. He graduated fromEnterprise in 1965 and Kay in 1969. They have four grandchildren.Their daughter, Kami Bumgarner, teaches junior high English atClinton and has a young daughter, Anna Kay. Brooks and his wifehave three young sons at West Lincoln; Luke, Matthew and John.

All three of the Burns’ children have master’s degrees in theeducation field. Brodie is a fifth-year senior at Ole Miss.

Grandson Predicts Winner

Brooks stopped by to visit his parents Tuesday night. “Mygrandson (Luke) told me that the Bears are going to beat theJackets,” said Roe, chuckling at the challenge.

Mrs. Burns is amused by the attention the game is receiving.”They want to know if I have a half-green and a half-maroon shirt.I may have to take a chair and sit halfway around the field.”

Certainly, football is a way of life in the Burns household. “Weare a football family,” said Kay. “It’s all we know. Both of ourboys played football at Loyd Star and grew up in it.”

Mrs. Burns, an elementary school teacher at Enterprise, admittedthat coaching football can be a demanding career. “It’s a hard lifeif you are dedicated to it.”

She knows her husband had achieved much success during histwo-decade stint at Loyd Star. Now, her oldest son is building aprogram at West Lincoln.

“I would love to see Brooks do well,” said Kay. “Roe built ateam at Loyd Star from the bottom up. He got them in the stateplayoffs.”

Kay spent most of her teaching career at Loyd Star. She workedin the concession stand during the basketball season, too.

Mom Prefers Neutral Seat

Kay said she prefers a neutral seat tonight. “It would be hardto sit on the West Lincoln side Friday night and then teach mylittle Jackets on Monday.”

Laughing at the situation, Kay said, “After the game is over,you put everything behind you.”

In the old days, when Roe coached at Loyd Star, they used tohead for Shoney’s restaurant after the game and enjoy a late mealtogether.

“Brooks loves West Lincoln and is dedicated to building thatprogram,” said mom. “The community is very supportive of him.”

She said she was reluctant to see her husband come out ofretirement. “Roe has so much to do, with raising cows and hay, andthe yard.”

After a long discussion, she offered her husband some spousaladvice. “I told him, when you make that commitment, I hope you dowell.”

She has been encouraged by the renewed interest in Enterprisefootball. “Roe had them working together all summer and they’regetting stronger in the weight room. They are playing as ateam.”

Kay said her husband has his priorities in order. “He stillbelieves in God first, family and the football team.”

Weekends Filled With Football

Weekends are packed with football, either high school, collegeor watching NFL games on Sunday afternoons.

“We went to all the Southern (Miss) games when Brooks was amanager over there,” said Kay. “Then we have been to the Ole Missgames for about five years.”

Brodie will receive his master’s degree in math from Ole Miss inMay. He wants to teach and coach, just like his dad and olderbrother.

A few years ago, Brodie was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.Several chemotherapy treatments put the dreaded disease inremission. Last summer, some small tumors were discovered besidehis heart and lungs. He’ll go to M.D. Anderson in Houston inOctober for treatment.

“Brodie is doing great,” said Mrs. Burns. “He feels great. Heworks out and jogs several miles a week.”

Football has a place in the Burns family but health is moreimportant. One reason the elder Burns retired from coaching washigh blood pressure.

“Roe handles stress pretty well,” said Kay. “That (bloodpressure) was the only drawback when he got back intocoaching.”

Brooks said he was looking forward to the encounter with hisdad. “For me, it’s fun. It’s a blessing. Not everybody gets theopportunity.”

He played seven years for his father and graduated at Loyd Starin 1992.

Win or lose tonight, they will all gather at Pleasant HillBaptist Church Sunday morning to thank God for blessing them in somany ways.