A little less than a month after the end of a season that started off with great promise and quickly went into a free fall, Bryan Hocter resigned as Stamford High School’s football coach Monday afternoon.
Stamford athletic director Jim Moriarty, who made the announcement Tuesday morning, said Hocter’s decision came 30 minutes before a scheduled meeting with Moriarty and the school’s two assistant principals. Moriarty would not say whether Hocter was going to be fired.
“He had 11 years on the staff and three years as head coach and because of inconsistencies in the program he decided to resign,” Moriarty said.
Hocter said that he did not expect to be released, and that his choice had been carefully considered.
“I didn’t think I was going to get fired,” Hocter said. “They brought up some concerns they had. Halfway through the season I thought it was time to explore other options. I thought long and hard about it. It took a couple of weeks to come to a decision, going backward and forward with it. I just felt I had done all I could do for this program.”
The Black Knights, coming off a 7-2 finish in 2011, opened this past year with two straight wins, prompting talk that they could be one of the big surprises in the FCIAC. But they dropped their next game, against Ridgefield, and then seven more in a row, never to taste victory again.
Hocter, who replaced Kevin Jones in 2010, finishes with a career mark of 15-14.
“Last year we were 7-2, we were getting new uniforms and I thought we were going to have a bunch of kids who were going to want to play football,” Hocter said. “The numbers we had were disappointing. If you can’t attract kids coming off that kind of a season, maybe you never will.”
Hocter said the Black Knights opened practice with 61 players and ended the year with 42.
Hocter, who is employed at the Stamford Courthouse in family services, said he would like to remain in coaching next year.
“I hope to get another job at another school, as an assistant,” he said. “I left Stamford on good terms. Everything I’ve ever done there, I gave 110 percent and everything I’ve done I can justify. It has always been what is in the best interest of the kids and the best interest of the school.”
Moriarty said having a football coach who did not work in the school building made the job more difficult.
“It takes a special kind of person to be a head coach in a major sport and not be at the high school every day,” Moriarty said.
Now the city of Stamford has two openings for a head football coach. Trinity Catholic’s Pete Stokes stepped down last week.
Moriarty said he will begin the search for a new coach as quickly as possible and hinted he would likely look for an outsider with new ideas.
“There has been inconsistency in the football program since Jack Hagan left,” said Moriarty, referring to the former coach who left the Black Knights nearly 40 years ago, after leading them to consecutive league and state championships. “There was a modicum of success under Kevin Jones. “We need someone who is a young guy, a mover and a shaker, to take the program to past glories. We’ve been a shell of our former selves.”