In a bit of a stark announcement, the Jacksonville Sharks announced yesterday that head coach Mark Stoute is relieved of his duties effective immediately, despite being the only undefeated team in the National Arena League at 8-0. According to Operating Manager Jeff Bouchy,
While this move may seem highly irregular to many, it is in the best interest of the Sharks to move in a different direction at this time. We wish Coach Stoute the best of luck in his future endeavors.
As soon as Stoute was out, the team announced the hiring of Siaha Burley as the new head coach. Burley spent the 2017 season as the offensive coordinator of the Arena Football League’s Cleveland Gladiators. Under Burley, the Gladiators were averaging 51.8 points per game, good for third in the five-team league.
“I am so fortunate to be given my first opportunity as the Head Coach of the Jacksonville Sharks. I have waited a long time for this moment,” Burley said. “I would like to thank the Sharks ownership group for putting their trust in me. I cannot wait to meet all of the players on this talented roster and finish what has already been started this season.”
Along with 11 years of playing experience with six teams in the AFL, most notably the Arizona Rattlers where he earned Second Team All-Arena honors and was named Offensive Player of the Year in 2005 after a franchise record 45 touchdown catches, Burley has spent the last six seasons coaching. Beginning his career with the Rattlers as Wide Receivers coach in 2011, he spent time as the Offensive Coordinator for the Chicago Rush (2013), Orlando Predators (2014-15), and the Rattlers (2016).
As Bouchy commented on the hire of the third head coach in franchise history, and the the third head coaching change in just two seasons:
“We are extremely excited to have an arena football legend lead our team in the coming years. We look forward to his offensive innovation and leadership of our team. I have known Siaha for many years going back to his playing days. I have watched his explosive offenses light up the Sharks over the years. It feels good that he’s finally on the good guy’s side. This is well deserved and we are lucky to have him.”
Burley’s first game as head coach will be Sunday, May 28 in Corpus Christi as the Sharks take on the Rage. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. ET.