Warren Area High School's all-time leading passer, Austin Jerman, said former head coach Brad Wright did "a tremendous job restoring Warren football over the past five years."
Wright was still doing that on Wednesday, coaching the team through a 7-on-7 scrimmage at War Memorial Field. It's the same day Wright turned in his resignation as head coach, with a little over a month to go before games.
He said on Thursday it wasn't the way he wanted things to end up. After reading the article on Thursday's paper - an article that he did not comment in, "I thought the community deserved a better explanation," he said.
"We did everything we possibly could to try to stay in Warren," Wright, 35, originally from Kittanning, said on Thursday. "My wife looked into jobs (here and) in Corry and Bradford and Kane. We've been trying to get my wife hired in the district. It came down to the fact my wife was hired in Blairsville as a school psychologist - her dream job."
He said, while that reason seems personal, he has no problem sharing with the community the fact it came down to employment. He and his wife, Shelly, have a second child on the way, he said, and he will be seeking employment as a teacher in his new area, as well as someday coaching again. He has a two-year-old son, Roman.
The positions of head coach and five assistant coaches for Warren football have been posted at www.wcscpa.org.
After seven years as a teacher in the Warren County School District, "I have made many good friends up here and I'm going to miss them," said Wright. "I harbor no ill feelings with the district and wish them the best; we just ran out of time."
Wright was an assistant coach at Washington & Lee High School, Westmoreland County, Va., and at North Stafford High School in Stafford County, Va., where he began coaching the shotgun spread offense he eventually brought to Warren, with success.
Wright was an assistant coach (offensive coordinator) under Brandon Falk for two seasons before becoming head coach following Falk's resignation. He was 24-29 over five seasons, including District 10 Class AAA playoff appearances in 2010 and last year, in which Warren finished 9-3 and won its first D-10 playoff game since 2002 (21-12 over Conneaut).
He said he will always remember his first opportunity to become a head coach, something he almost had to be talked into five years ago.
"It was a great opportunity - an experience that had its peaks and valleys, but we showed a tremendous amount of growth," said Wright. "I think we never stopped learning and always tried to improve from year to year. I'm proud of raising our competitive level, from where we started at 2-8 to winning our first playoff game in a decade. As I reflect on this, and it hasn't settled in yet, what I'm going to remember most is how coachable and respectful these kids were; never any selfish kids. They were just an outstanding group of young men."
Wright said there are former Dragons playing at Division I, Division I-AA, and Division II.
"I'm leaving this program in a very good place, and the kids obviously had a hand in that, too," he said. "We have served the kids from Warren as best we could, and I'm leaving here proud. My wish, and my recommendation, I said I would hope you would hire 'from within' for this year and try not to change things a whole lot before the season gets started - run the same offense and defense, with how abrupt this process has been. These kids have become comfortable with (the system), and you can see the continuity from the top.
"I was very excited about this team; not only are they good kids, but they are built to win now," said Wright. "I told the kids, 'If you guys stick together, and talk the talk and walk the walk, I think you can repeat as a playoff team."
Wright said he felt strange on Thursday, about not being a football coach for the first time in years, and had a little time to reflect.
"First, and foremost, I'd like to thank the parents and Grid Club for their tireless work from the time I got here until now - it's a different environment now having little to no funding for the program," said Wright. "To the Boosters and (Warren Area High School athletic director) Jeff White, who believed in me five years ago and stuck by my side, and I would also like to thank my (coaching) staff, a loyal and dedicated staff - true friends that I've developed over the years.
"It hasn't sunk in yet," he said. "I do plan on coaching at some point in the future, but have to figure out my professional life first."