After two seasons at the helm of Hoover High football and following one of the more successful seasons for the Tornadoes in some time, Andrew Policky has stepped down from his post as Hoover’s head football coach to return to his alma mater, taking over as the new Arcadia head football coach.
Policky, an Arcadia graduate, announced his departure to his team on Thursday after accepting his new position on Wednesday.
“When I was at Hoover, it wasn’t something I thought a lot about,” said Policky of returning to Arcadia, where he played football and graduated in 1999 and later returned as an assistant coach. “I was just focused on Hoover and building up the program. When the position opened up ... the situation just fit and I decided to try to go back home.
“It’s definitely a good situation.”
Policky was called back for a second interview on Wednesday, after first interviewing the week prior. On Wednesday after the interview, he informed Hoover Principal Jennifer Earl he had accepted the job and on Thursday told his Tornadoes.
“It was tough,” said Policky, who guided the Tornadoes to a 3-7 season last year. “You build relationships wherever you go. I’ve built good relationships with the kids.
“I love all of them and I hope the program can continue to move forward.”
Policky’s departure was a surprising development for the school he had coached at for the past five seasons — the first three as an assistant.
“I was surprised,” said Hoover athletic director Jack Van Patten, who added that he was upset to lose Policky, but to a further degree when considering the kids. “Coaches are all adults. I’m disappointed for the kids.
“We’ll be OK, we’ll find another coach.”
Hoover defensive lineman Arada Gholian said the team was sad to see their coach leave, but ultimately understood his choice.
“We were all disappointed, but we understood the situation,” Gholian said. “He kinda described it as returning home.”
This past season under Policky, the Tornadoes went 3-7 and 1-6 in the Pacific League, with the three victories the most for a Hoover team since 2005. That was also the last season Hoover had begun a season with a 2-0 start, as it did this past year. Its season-opening 46-0 win over Blair also snapped a 17-game losing streak and its 37-8 Pacific League win over Pasadena broke a 17-game league losing skid and was the first league win for the Tornadoes against a team besides rival Glendale since 1994.
“I felt good about it,” said Policky of last season and where he had the Tornadoes headed. “I felt like we were doing some things to get us headed in the right direction as a program. I was hoping to continue building in the same direction. I never anticipated the Arcadia position opening up.”
At Arcadia, Policky, for the second time in less than two years, will replace Chris Long. Long, another former Arcadia assistant, took over Hoover’s head coaching slot before the 2008 season with Policky as an assistant. Upon Long’s leaving in 2011, Policky was promoted in mid-May of that year. Long was Arcadia’s coach last season and Policky will take over for him after a disappointing 4-7 season in which the Apaches lost in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Southeast Division playoffs. Arcadia defeated Hoover, 49-6.
Moving forward for Hoover, it will begin the search for its fourth head coach in seven seasons.
“We move on,” Van Patten said. “We post the job and we go from there. Everything always seems to work out.”
Particularly troubling about the transition is the timing of it all, as the Tornadoes, who had been involved in weight training according to Gholian, were set to begin spring practice next week. Hence, no matter how quickly Hoover is able to make a new hire, it will make for a shortened transition period for the new coach and his players before the 2013 season begins in the fall.
“The timing is not good, but there’s worse things that happen in the world,” Van Patten said. “We’re resilient.”
Gholian said assistants Dave Beard and Chris Hoffman are set to lead spring practices.
“They’re gonna take care of us until we get our new coach,” Gholian said.
And so a new chapter in Hoover football will begin.