Bellarmine-Jefferson High football Coach Rolando Aguirre said he contemplated stepping down a year ago following the 2010 season.
But he decided to stay for one more year, only to see his Guards finish the 2011 campaign with a 3-7 record and go winless in the Santa Cruz League.
Instead of returning for his 14th season with Bell-Jeff next year, Aguirre made the decision this week that he is stepping down as the Guards' coach.
"You just know when to quit, and that time for me is now," Aguirre said. "I've spent 13 years with the program and we've done some good things over the years. But I just felt it was time to move on."
Aguirre took over a struggling Bell-Jeff program in 1999 that not only found victories hard to come by but also had trouble attracting players to compete for the small Catholic school. The coach helped turn around the program, as his teams won three league championships, finished second in league three times and advanced to the CIF Southern Section quarterfinals once.
"It's been a great ride and I've had the privilege of coaching some super kids over the years," said Aguirre who had a winning record at Bell-Jeff at 69-68 and who notched six winning seasons in 13 years. "We had some kids who were just tremendous and there are still good kids in the program who should be back next year. It's all been good. It was just time to move on."
In just his second season as coach in 2000, the Guards won a share of the Santa Fe League title. It was the program's first crown in 46 years. Bell-Jeff also captured undisputed championships in 2004 and 2007, as the teams finished with 9-2 records both seasons.
In 2008, Bell-Jeff (8-4) was the most successful area football team that season. The Guards placed second in the Santa Fe League and advanced to the Northeast Division playoff quarterfinals. The Guards defeated Fairmont Prep, 28-21, in a first-round playoff game to earn their first postseason win in more than 50 years. Bell-Jeff fell in the quarterfinals to Linfield Christian, 26-0.
"I can look back on some very good things that we did," Aguirre said.
But the Guards struggled the last two seasons, going 2-8 in 2010 and posting a 5-15 record over that span.
Bell-Jeff Principal John Matheus said the school is appreciative for Aguirre's years of service to the Guards' football program. He added that the school is moving forward and will be working hard to fine another football coach.
"We are accepting applications for the position here at Bell-Jeff," said Matheus, who also said Aguirre will remain at the school as a teacher. "We want to redirect the program and we've already been getting some resumes."