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Lopez resigns as Hedgesville coach

November 11, 2007|By MARK KELLER

Don't tell David Lopez that winter is just around the corner. He's already preparing for next summer.

Lopez resigned last week as Hedgesville High School's football coach after nine seasons without a winning record. While he'll miss coaching - or more accurately, he'll miss the kids he coaches - he admits to looking forward to a couple days off.

"I sat down with my wife and talked about it and this will be my first summer off in 23 years," said Lopez. "People don't understand. It will be mine. I'm a little excited about it."

Lopez exits with a 28-62 record. The Eagles posted 5-5 seasons in 2000 and 2001, but never were able to get over the .500 mark under Lopez.

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"It's time to be done. I just can't put up enough 'W's to make people happy," Lopez said. "I'm going to be a man here and say, 'It's my fault. Point all fingers to coach Dave Lopez.' I tried my best and couldn't get it done, so I'll move on."

That said, Lopez did have some successes at Hedgesville. He claims a 100 percent graduation rate and that 16 of his players have gone on to play college ball.

"Dave Lopez is a good person, he's a good man. He did things the right way," said Hedgesville principal Don Dellinger, who was the athletic director when Lopez was hired. "He made sure the kids focused on academics and helped some of them go on to college. He always kept higher education in mind for them."

Lopez also had the opportunity to coach his son, Michael, who is playing basketball as a freshman at Fairmont State. He said that experience actually led to his decision to step down.

"I have another son coming through," Lopez said. "I thought it'd be nice coaching my kids, but it's different. I don't want the same things to happen to this one."

Lopez was excited about coming to Hedgesville from Tantall County, Ga., 10 years ago, when he applied for the head coaching position after Ron Renner resigned. Renner reconsidered and stayed on for two more years, but Lopez was already on his way to the Eastern Panhandle.

He worked as an assistant under Renner for two seasons, then took over as head coach when Renner retired for good in 1999.

Prior to his time in Georgia, Lopez was the assistant strength and conditioning coach with the NFL's Arizona Cardinals in 1994 and 1995.

He has not ruled out a return to coaching in the future, even as an assistant at another school in the area, though he said he might wait until his youngest son, now a freshman, is finished with high school ball.

"Well, I'm not going to coach against my own son," Lopez said. "I'll probably enjoy watching him play. And if the right situation comes along, we'll see. I just don't think Hedgesville is the spot for me right now, but I have enjoyed it here.

"I do honestly believe, deep in my heart, that it's time for me to move on. And maybe they'll get a guy in there and things will change."

Dellinger said he will meet with superintendent Manny Arvon this week to set a timeline for hiring a new head coach. He said his preference is to have that person work in the school in order to have daily contact with the players.

Dellinger also said there is some urgency to filling the position because players soon will be hitting the weights to prepare for the 2008 season.

"Usually at the end of the season, you take a couple weeks off, but right out of Thanksgiving break you're back in the weight room," Dellinger said. "That's something we'll have to consider, getting that weight room open so we can have some continuity until we find somebody permanent."

Hedgesville

under David Lopez

1999 0-10

2000 5-5

2001 5-5

2002 3-7

2003 4-6

2004 1-9

2005 3-7

2006 4-6

2007 3-7

9 seasons 28-62

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