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Gustafson resigns at James Buchanan

March 08, 2008|By MARK KELLER

Take one look at Kevin Gustafson's record as James Buchanan's head football coach and it's easy to understand that he didn't keep the job just to pad his resume.

With an 11-79 mark over nine seasons, it's obvious that Gustafson was in it for more than winning football games.

"I was there for the players, trying to build the program around those guys," Gustafson said.

Gustafson submitted his resignation just before Christmas and it was officially accepted by the Tuscarora school board earlier this week.

"I appreciate the opportunity that I have had to coach and be a positive role model for our players over the last 9 years," Gustafson said in a statement e-mailed to The Herald-Mail. "We have worked with players of varying abilities and helped them become better football players and more importantly better people.

"We won't truly know what kind of impact we had on these young men until we see these young men 15-20 years down the road to see what kind of citizens, employees, husbands, fathers and friends that they have become."

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Gustafson isn't the only head coach to have struggled at JB. The Rockets have had just six winning seasons since 1970, the last of which ended a string of three straight in 1995.

But like any head coach, Gustafson's desire was to leave the program in better shape than when he arrived, and he said he feels like he's done that.

"Within the last two years, we've been running the same stuff from the 7- and 8-year-olds all the way up to the high school," Gustafson said. "And we were starting to see some success. All three youth teams made the playoffs and the junior high team had its first winning season in well over a decade."

In addition to his high school coaching duties, Gustafson, 37, has been coaching at the youth level the last two years. He started his coaching career at the youth level in 1991 and spent two years as an assistant coach at James Buchanan in 1993 and 1994 before moving to Chambersburg.

He coached at Faust Junior High for three years and spent one season on Don Folmar's staff at Chambersburg High in 1998 before returning to JB as the head coach in 1999.

The Rockets were mired in a 17-game losing streak when Gustafson took over, then lost 20 more before getting Gustafson his first win in the 2001 season opener.

Gustafson said he does plan to coach elsewhere, and soon - though he wouldn't elaborate.

"I want to thank my family, my coaching staff and all of the players (past and present) and their parents for their efforts over the years," Gustafson said in his statement. "I personally look forward to what God has in store for me and my family. God has already opened doors for us and I am very thankful for that."

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