Stepping down

Santa Fe athletic director and head football coach Jay Buckner resigned Thursday. Buckner led the Indians football team for six seasons, posting a 19-40 overall record with an 8-32 mark in district play. He led the teams to a playoff berth in 2009 after winning a three-way tiebreaking coin flip against Texas City and Manvel for the final postseason spot from district.

JENNIFER REYNOLDS/The Daily News File Photo

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

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


(6) comments

Carlos Ponce

I hate to see Coach Buckner go. Too many times a successful coach is only measured in wins and losses . Coach Buckner is a good decent man, a true Christian, a good role model for today's youth. As stated in the article "the team has been regularly recognized for its sportsmanship and character". That says a lot for this coach and this community. We will miss him. Good luck coach in all your future endeavors and may God Bless you and your family.

Keith Gray

I agree....

Melvin Herrmann

He is a good decent man yes, however; he was making choices that were not the best ones for the team. Instead of playing the players that were at practices and were there to play football, he was playing "daddy ball". He was playing the kids of the parents who were well known in town, had money or held some kind of position in town. Several of those boys that he kept on the sidelines had played since they were old enough to play as young boys all the way through to their Senior year and missed out on many opportunities because they were not getting to play. I hope they find someone who will do something other than "daddy ball"

Carlos Ponce

MelvinH, sometimes boys don't get play time because of attitude, lack of discipline, egotist who looked after their own stats rather than the teams overall welfare or just were not as good as their friends and family thought they were. What you describe I did not observe. I have seen football players who had played youth football and then became uncoachable in high school. "Coach can't tell ME how to play football, I KNOW how to!" Despite their potential, I would not play them with this attitude, and Santa Fe has had a number of these over the years. I don't know who you are referring to but suggest you ask someone without a horse in the race for an unbiased view. If the boy was not a starter there was probably a good reason.

Wes SF

I agree with you Melvin and am glad to see the change that needed to be made years ago. To bad it took years, losing, declining attendance and lost revenues before the political participation comes to an end. Two many kids who have now graduated and moved on lost their High School oportunities to the "system". I hope the School Board does the right thing this time and looks outside for a "Real Coach". Can't wait to renew my season tickets this year. Go Indians!.

Carlos Ponce

Et Tu, Brute?

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