Longtime Erie head football coach Larry Gartrell no longer will be on the Tigers’ sideline.
His resignation was first announced Tuesday in an email from athletic director Richie Wildenhaus to parents of the football players and later acknowledged to BoCoPreps.com by the AD. The possessor of a 105-88 record, Gartrell guided the Tigers to two appearances in the state title game, including a championship in 1997.
Gartrell will remain at the school as a teacher and an assistant baseball coach.
“There have been some conversations that Larry and I have had since the season has come to a close, and I just feel that he has his reasons for resigning and he’s ready to move on,” Erie athletic director Richie Wildenhaus said. “I support his decision.
“It’s something, like I said, we had conversations about in addressing particular items in the program, and from those conversations, he came to the conclusion this morning that he was going to go ahead and resign.”
Gartrell’s final season was a tumultuous one, although not due to anything football-related as the Tigers finished a solid 6-3. Like many teams in the area, Erie was forced to deal with flood damage, but the Tigers’ plight was a bit worse.
Prior to the well-documented September floodings, Erie was forced off its field because of an August storm that caused severe damage to the playing surface. After a cleanup job spearheaded by the St. Vrain Valley School District allowed Erie to return for its opening home game, the September floods came and knocked the Tigers off the field for the balance of the season.
Despite playing home games at Frederick and Mead, the Tigers narrowly missed out an a Class 3A playoff berth. The floods caused the cancellation of a game against Skyline, one that conceivably could have vaulted Erie into the 16-team field if the Tigers had won.
Gartrell guided Erie to the 1A title game in 1997, a 42-14 win against West Grand. The Tigers qualified for the 2A championship game in 2008, where they were nipped 22-21 in overtime by Olathe.
Asked if he and Gartrell were at odds in regards to philosophical issues with the program, Wildenhaus responded: “I’m not going to speak to us being at odds or anything like that.”
“Larry and I get along very well,” he continued. “I like Larry a lot and consider him a friend and will continue to do so. But at this point in time, he doesn’t see himself as the head football coach at Erie High School.”
Gartrell could not be reached for comment but provided a statement, in which he thanked virtually everyone involved in his tenure, highlighted his favorite memories and thanked his parents for not letting him play high school football, so he could become a fan and then a coach.
“It has been a privilege and an honor to have had the opportunity to lead the Erie High School Tigers onto the football field for the last 18 years,” Gartrell wrote.
The search for a new coach essentially will begin immediately, as Wildenhaus will post the job before the end of the week. He doesn’t have an immediate timetable to hire a replacement.
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