Matt Burnett retires from PN-G ISD

PORT NECHES — The coach who brought the Port Neches-Groves Indians to its last appearance in the state championship game has announced his retirement from the district.
Coach Matt Burnett confirmed he is leaving the district after 28 years of service.
Burnett, 58, became head coach of the Indians in 1994 and resigned from that post in 2008 with the most wins for a coach in PN-G history. His all-time record stands at 95-70.
Since his resignation as coach, Burnett has served as the coordinator of transportation and student services.
“I decided it was time to move on to another career,” Burnett said. “I am going to go back to work doing something. I have several options I am exploring. I am just retiring from PN-G ISD.”
Burnett, whose last team in 2008 went 3-6 overall, said the possibility of him coaching again is in his mind.
“The possibility is wide open,” Burnett added. “I have several opportunities I am exploring. Coaching is one of them. I am unemployed and I am going to take a little time and look around. I am not sure yet.”
Burnett’s coaching career started in 1983 as the offensive line coach at Klein Oak. He was there until taking the same job at Nederland from 1986 to 1987 before reaching PN-G in 1987. In 1991, he was named defensive coordinator and was called up to head coach in Feb. 1994 and replaced Tim Owens.
One of the most interesting notes in Burnett’s career was when he and Nederland coach Larry Neumann were coaching beside each other during spring training at Clear Creek High School before Neumann accepted a job at Thomas Jefferson High School.
The two would reunited across the field from each other at the two rival schools. Burnett and Neumann coached against each other 15 times in part of Mid County Madness and the Bulldogs hold a 10-5 record against the Indians during that time span.
Burnett was named Class 4A Coach of the Year by Fox Sports in 1999 and was named District 20-4A Coach of the Year five times, the same number of times his teams won the district title.
The Indians went all the way to the state final in 1999. PN-G was defeated by Stephenville, 28-18.
Burnett called the state title game the highlight of his coaching career. He also enjoyed learning the history of PN-G High School and its rich traditions.
“When I went to work here I understood why PN-G is a special place,” Burnett said. “It’s a special place because the administrators in the past made it special. It is like this because someone in the past made it that way.”
Burnett pointed to people like Gene McCullom, Lewis Ford and Ford’s wife, Irene, as just a few of the people who were the foundation of the PN-G history. Irene Ford was the architect of the Indianettes in 1951.
“Cherokee, the Indian Spirit and the pep rally, all those things were invented over time,” Burnett said. “Talk about some really fine administrators. I started to realize when I started coaching here that all this was not here by accident. It was created on purpose by some very dedicated PN-G people.”
Burnett played for the Indians in 1973 and 1974, the first two seasons of the Doug Ethridge era. In 1974, the Indians lost to Brazoswood, 14-7, in the state semifinals.
PN-G won the state championship the following year, 20-10, over Odessa-Permian.
Burnett was elected to the Lamar Cardinals Hall of Fame ini 1999 after being a four-year starter for the football team from 1975 to 1978.
He played in three preseason games for the Houston Oilers in 1979.

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