SANTA FE — Santa Fe athletic director and head football coach Jay Buckner, who in 2009 led the Indians to the playoffs for only the third time in school history, is stepping down after six seasons at the helm of the program.
Buckner’s resignation follows a disappointing 2013 season for the Indians, who went 2-8 overall and 1-6 in one of the toughest districts in the state. Stepping down was a difficult but mutual decision between he and school district administrators, Buckner said Thursday.
He said it was the best move for his own future and the future of the program.
“I’m ready for a new challenge and a fresh start,” he said. “This is a great group of kids to work with, and I’m very proud of the accomplishments we’ve had.”
He will remain with the school district until June, when his contract is up.
The district has begun advertising for the open position, but it’s unclear if Buckner will assist in the search for a new athletic director and head football coach.
Buckner, who posted a 19-40 overall record (27.5 percent winning percentage) and 8-32 district mark (20 percent) as Indians head coach, moved to Santa Fe with his family in 2005 and worked as a junior high football coach for a year. He previously lived in Missouri, where he coached football at various levels for about 10 years.
He spent the next two seasons as an assistant varsity football coach, in which the Indians were unable to get a district win.
In 2008, when he became the team’s third head coach in three years, Buckner told The Daily News it was the “highlight of his career.”
In his first year as head coach, the Indians’ defense held opposing teams to a district-best 271 yards a game, although Santa Fe continued struggling to find a district win.
Buckner revamped the offense and introduced spring training ahead of the 2009 season.
The Indians subverted expectations and electrified Indians’ fans by opening up the season with a six-game winning streak.
Santa Fe then suffered four straight losses, and with a 3-4 district record and some fortuitous results from other district games, the Indians’ playoff hopes came down to a three-way coin flip tiebreaker.
At the Santa Fe field house on a Friday night in November, the head coaches of Texas City and Manvel flipped coins along with Buckner.
On the first try, all three came up heads. The second time around, a heads-up flip from Buckner sent the Indians to the playoffs for the third time in school history.
The Indians lost in the first round.
Santa Fe posted a solid 7-3 record in 2010 but narrowly missed a return to the postseason.
The team has since struggled, going 3-7 in 2011 and 0-10 in 2012.
The Indians have been unable to secure another playoff berth among the strong competition in District 24-4A, but the team has been regularly recognized for its sportsmanship and character, Buckner said.
Buckner said he values his time as athletic director and head coach, and he thanked the school, students and Santa Fe community in a statement.
“I feel very blessed to have been a part of the Santa Fe community for the past nine years,” Buckner said. “These are some of the finest kids in the state, and they represent Santa Fe with great class and character. I thank the kids, coaches, administration and the community for their constant support and hard work, and I truly wish all of them the best for the future.”
Contact reporter Alex Macon at 409-683-5244 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
At a glance
Jay Buckner’s record as
Santa Fe head football coach
Year overall district
2013 2-8 1-6
2012 0-10 0-7
2011 3-7 1-5
2010 7-3 3-3
*2009 6-5 3-4
2008 1-7 0-7
Total 19-40 8-32
* Playoff berth