Smith steps down as Polytech head football coach

“When you love coaching as much as I do and love being around the kids and the camaraderie with the football staff and the community, it’s just never easy,” Kevin Smith said. Delaware State News file photo

WOODSIDE — Kevin Smith and coaching have parted ways before, of course.

And the Polytech High football coach admits it wasn’t easy in 2015 when he was away from the sport.

But the fifth-year coach is going to try it again, deciding over the Christmas break to step down as the Panthers’ football head coach.

The school began advertising the position last week. Smith will remain Polytech’s athletic director.

“It was a very tough decision,” said the 42-year-old Smith. “It was very tough the year that I took off before a couple years ago. Friday nights will be a little different.”

Smith has had his share of success at a program where victories have been difficult to come by.

The Panthers went 5-5 in 2013 and 6-4 in 2017. They beat both Kent County rivals Caesar Rodney and Dover for the first time in their history before finishing 17-33 in Smith’s tenure.

As it is for any coach, telling his players about his decision was the most difficult part for Smith.

“You always have that senior class you don’t want to walk away from,” he said. “We’ve got five or six seniors coming back that I’ve been through thick and thin with for the last three years. … There’s never a good time.

“When you love coaching as much as I do and love being around the kids and the camaraderie with the football staff and the community, it’s just never easy.”

Ultimately, though, Smith said he wanted to be able to spend more time with his family. He and his wife have two children, eight and six, who are just starting to get involved in organized sports.

After coaching in Virginia before coming to Delaware, Smith has been a high school coach for most of the past 20 years.

“I’m just taking a little break for right now,” said Smith. “I’ve been doing this since I got out of college in 1999. I’ve got a lot going on with the AD and still teaching in the classroom. The summers are pretty hectic and busy right now.”

In his role as AD, Smith will have a hand in hiring his successor. In the meantime, though, he said the program won’t be neglected.

Smith said he and veteran assistant coach Tom Smith will continue to run the program until a new head coach is hired. A former Wesley College assistant, Tom Smith now works at Woodbridge.

“I’m still here,” said Kevin Smith. “I’m not going anywhere. I’m still here as far as being there for them. Nothing’s changed in our off-season routine, which is very important.

“I could have dragged the decision out,” he added. “I could have thought about it a lot more and hemmed and hawed. But I didn’t want to do that. That wouldn’t have been fair to the program or the kids.”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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