Craig steps down – Foxes looking for new football coach

February 2022 Posted in Uncategorized

James Day

Silverton High football coach Josh Craig, who led the Foxes to the Class 5A state title this past season, has announced his resignation.

Craig, 31, is stepping down because of family considerations.

“My wife gave birth to our second daughter (Colby on Jan. 4), and now we have a 19-month-old (Murphy) and a newborn,” Craig said. “When I got the job five years ago, my wife (Kenzie, who teaches at the middle school) and I made an agreement that I would coach for five years and re-evaluate where we were at.

“Fast forward to now, and I feel like I need to be able to spend more time at home helping her with the girls while they’re still very young.”

Outgoing Silverton football coach, Josh Craig.

Outgoing Silverton football coach, Josh Craig.

 

Craig, a 2008 Silverton graduate, served in two stints as an assistant coach under John Mannion while finishing up degree college work at Oregon State University before taking over for Mannion for the 2017 season when the latter moved to Beaverton to start the program at Mountainside High.

Mannion had coached the Foxes to the Class 5A semifinals three consecutive years, from 2012 to 2014, and his squad lost to Hermiston in the 2014 5A title game. If anything Craig has equaled or even surpassed his mentor, going 41-11 in five years with the state title, a semifinal appearance in 2019 and two quarterfinal slots. His playoff record is 8-3. The fifth year was a five-game COVID-influenced spring season in 2021 in which the Foxes were 3-2.

The fall of 2021, meanwhile, proved magical. The Foxes lost an early 35-28 heartbreaker at eventual Class 6A runner-up Tualatin and then ran the table, defeating Mid-Willamette Conference rival West Albany twice, in the regular season and in the 5A semifinals, before downing Thurston 26-20 on Nov. 27 in the 5A final at Hillsboro Stadium.

The title game marked payback for the Foxes, who lost to Thurston 44-14 in the 2019 semifinals at Autzen Stadium.

Most of the staff that Mannion helped develop stayed at Silverton, with Matt Craig (Josh’s cousin), Mike Fessler, Craig Rankin, John Howard, Eric Anderson and Don von Weller all playing key roles. Three seasons ago Craig reeled in long-time Willamette University assistant John Horner, who worked with the defense and won conference assistant coach of the year honors this fall.

No word was available on a possible successor or whether anyone on the current staff will be considered. Athletic Director James Rise told Our Town he has posted the position and hopes to make a hire by March 4. Craig will continue as an English teacher at the high school.

“This is the hardest decision I’ve ever made, and I already miss coaching,” Craig said. “But it’s hard to choose anything over family when push comes to shove. This job requires a ton of focus and commitment, and I don’t think I can give it the time it, and the players, deserve while also being present enough as a father. This isn’t meant to be permanent, and I intend to come back to coaching when the girls are a little older.”

Craig said that he didn’t necessarily have to come back as a head coach and all but ruled out looking statewide for a job.

The model for a possible comeback already exists on campus at Silverton.

Jamie McCarty stepped back from boys basketball coaching duties at the end of a 2007 season in which he led Stayton to a runner-up finish in the Class 4A state tournament. McCarty also was the athletic director for the Eagles.

McCarty was moving into administration and with daughter Brooke (then seven, but ultimately a four-year starter for the Foxes’ girls basketball team) and Jordan (then three, but ultimately a football and basketball standout for the Foxes) needing his attention he stepped back from his coaching duties.

Fast forward 11 years and McCarty got an opportunity to return to coaching when Steve Roth elected to step back from head coaching duties with the Foxes. Roth, who still serves as an assistant coach for the Foxes, had led Silverton to the 2015 Class 5A state title.

McCarty has had a huge run of success, following in the footsteps of Darren Shryock (two thirds at state) and Roth, McCarty is 103-12 overall and 63-1 in conference play in his five years, including third and fourth place finishes in the 5A tournament. Also, McCarty’s 25-1 2019-20 squad was ranked No. 2 and had already advanced to the semifinals when COVID shut down the tournament.

Follow me on Twitter.com @jameshday. 

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