One week before its 2005 season-opener, Columbia High's football team got a jolt.
Head coach Scott Ross announced his resignation to the team prior to last Friday's practice and introduced Matt Whitmire as the new head coach.
Ross, who teaches history at Columbia High, stepped down after two seasons as Bruins Coach. His teams compiled a 6-14 win-loss record in that span. Prior to becoming head coach Ross served six seasons as an assistant to former head coach Larry McCutcheon.
"Basically what it has come down to is that I have lost the energy, passion and desire to do it," Ross said about being a head coach during an interview last Friday.
"To be a head coach you have to be willing to put the time and effort into it," he noted, "and that's something I'm not able to do anymore."
"I felt I was hindering the program because I wasn't putting into it what it needed to keep it going. I was burned out," Ross added. "It just became hard to get motivated to go to practice and that was unfair to the kids."
Whitmire, Columbia High's academic counselor, takes over the program after serving the three previous seasons as an assistant coach in charge of the offense.
Head football coach is his first head coaching job at Columbia High. He will team with holdover assistants Jeff Lindstrom and Mitch Plummer.
"They're all experienced coaches, so I don't have any concerns about the hands I'm leaving the program in," Ross said. "I think they're going to do a tremendous job of running their program. They still have that youthfulness, that passion and desire that you need" to be a football coach.
Whitmire last held the title of head football coach at Pe Ell High School, a member of WIAA's Class B ranks. But since the end of last season, Ross noted, "coach Whitmire has been doing the job of head coach behind the scenes."
"I was relying on Matt to do more and more and that was unfair to him. I had the title but he was doing 90 to 95 percent of the work," Ross said.
Whitmire and his staff will carry on with the work Ross started two years ago in trying to reverse Columbia High's football fortunes. CHS hasn't had a winning season since 2001.
"We haven't won a lot of games the last three years but the program is in good shape," Ross said. "Our kids still come to play on Friday nights and they compete as hard as ever. I don't see that changing."
Whitmire called Ross's departure "a tremendous blow to our football program."
"The reasons for his resignation are personal reasons. He doesn't have to justify them to me," Whitmire said. "He made the call that it was in the best interest of the team for him to step aside. Can we overcome this? That's up to the players."