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AIFA: Guard name Burnett coach
[February 17, 2010]

AIFA: Guard name Burnett coach

Feb 17, 2010 (The Fayetteville Observer - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- A new leader will direct the Fayetteville Guard's fortunes this season.

Webbie Burnett, a veteran player and assistant in the arena football ranks, has been named head coach of the American Indoor Football Association franchise, which will open preseason camp Monday.

Burnett replaces Charles Gunnings, who was not re-signed after directing the Guard to an 8-6 finish and AIFA playoff berth last season.

The 44-year-old Burnett comes to Fayetteville after serving as a defensive coach last season with the South Georgia Wildcats of arenafootball2.

"I was basically looking for an opportunity to be a head coach," Burnett said Tuesday. "I've been working as an assistant the last couple of years. I've been tutored by some very successful coaches and I thought I'd be a good head coach.

"This is definitely a great opportunity for me to jump into it and win a championship." Burnett knows a thing or two about winning championships. He was a pivotal player on two Arena Football League championship squads with the Orlando Predators in 1998 and 2000 as an offensive lineman/defensive lineman.

A former college player at both Florida (lettered in 1986 and '87) and Western Kentucky (1989), Burnett was taken in the 11th round of the 1990 NFL draft by the New Orleans Saints. He spent part of the season on the Saints practice squad and later signed as a free agent with the Washington Redskins before beginning his career in the arena leagues.

Burnett played nine years with the Predators, starting 74 straight games during one stretch.

The Guard had originally targeted another veteran arena player, Ryan Vena, as the replacement for Gunnings. Burnett said he was planning to come to work for Vena as a defensive coach before that plan fell through.

"Low and behold, another opportunity arose for Ryan Vena and I guess that sort of paved the way for me," Burnett said. "I was interested in the position. He (Vena) gave me that push and told me I should go for it." Burnett will bring in arena vet Xavier Patterson to serve as Fayetteville's offensive coordinator. Patterson has worked the last three seasons as an offensive coach with the Tennessee Valley Vipers of the af2.

"I'm excited about coach Burnett and coach Patterson because they are two different types of personalities," Guard general manager Stephenie Brockish said. "I think putting them together is going to be an exciting combination. I think they'll compliment each other well." Defensive lineman Quincy Malloy is one Guard veteran who said he'll return this season to play for Burnett.

"He has really good arena experience and his main focus is to win a championship," Malloy said of Burnett. "I like hearing that." The Guard is scheduled to kick off its third year in AIFA on March 21 in Baltimore. Their home opener at the Crown Coliseum is set for March 27 against the New Jersey Revolution.

Staff writer Sammy Batten can be reached at or 486-3534.

To see more of The Fayetteville Observer, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to Copyright (c) 2010, The Fayetteville Observer, N.C. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. For reprints, email, call 800-374-7985 or 847-635-6550, send a fax to 847-635-6968, or write to The Permissions Group Inc., 1247 Milwaukee Ave., Suite 303, Glenview, IL 60025, USA.

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