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Preps

Ex-Eagle heads up Countryside

By BOB PUTNAM
Published May 28, 2004

For more than a decade, Paul Burke has been loyal to Brandon wrestling.

He was on varsity from 1990 to '92 as a protege of Russ Cozart, the veteran coach widely known for having one of the state's consistently powerful programs.

Burke was so devoted to his team and coach, that he came back from a debilitating knee injury his junior year to help the program keep its nationally renowned win streak intact as a senior.

Now Burke will try to put an end to it.

On Friday, Burke switched allegiances, agreeing to become the coach at Countryside, one of Brandon's fiercest rivals.

Burke, 30, replaces longtime Cougars coach Dave Frayer, who retired in March after 24 seasons at the school and 33 overall.

"Actually, I haven't even thought about Brandon or the rivalry." Burke said. "I know a lot of other people have. I've got enough pressure being with this program."

Burke previously was a head coach at Riverview in 1999 and Durant in 2000. For the past four years, he worked with a kids program at St. Petersburg Catholic.

"I was looking to become a head coach again and applied to a few schools," Burke said. "But Countryside was always the No. 1 choice. I loved the school and the program. It's rich in tradition."

Burke will teach English at Countryside. Frayer, meanwhile, will remain at the school as a physical education teacher but no longer will be involved with the program.

"I'm surprised by the decision," Frayer said. "That's all I have to say about that. For now, I'm just going to take a step back and see how I feel about things."

[Last modified May 28, 2004, 01:00:27]


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