Brian Butts doesn’t believe his football coaching career is over, but he’s done at Ross High School.
He has stepped down after 11 seasons as the Rams’ head coach, having posted a 59-53 record with two Fort Ancient Valley Conference Scarlet Division championships and two Division II playoff appearances.
“I’ve been coaching for 34 years, and at this point, it’s kind of worn on me a little bit,” Butts said. “The administrative duties as a head coach are a lot more than I anticipated, and the fire has kind of gone out of my belly.
“So I’m looking for an opportunity to possibly go coach somewhere else next year as a volunteer or assistant and enjoy the game for a little while and kind of rebuild my batteries, recharge things. It’s just time for me to move on and kind of gather my thoughts and decide where I want to go next with my life.”
Butts wasn’t going to be renewed if he wanted to return as head coach next season, but the administration’s intentions became moot when he resigned.
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“It’s just one of those things where we mutually agreed and we’re moving on,” Ross athletic director Brian Gunter said. “Brian’s done a tremendous job at Ross, and we can’t overlook that.
“He’s been an outstanding coach and an outstanding individual. It was an honor as the athletic director to work with him. We wish nothing but the best for him as he moves forward.”
Gunter said Butts’ resignation will be accepted by the school board Thursday night. Gunter doesn’t have an exact timeline from there, but said internal and external candidates will be considered for the position.
Ross only had two losing seasons during Butts’ tenure. One came this fall as the Rams went 2-8.
Butts, 52, said the disappointing campaign wasn’t the reason he decided to step aside.
“You have your ups and downs in high school football. It’s more about the workload,” said Butts, who started coaching at Ross in 1994 and replaced Dick Ballard as head coach in 2006. “I’m proud of what we did, proud of my coaches and the effort they gave.”
Butts was more emotional than he expected to be when he informed the players of his decision.
“It was easier when I was talking to all the adults, but then when I had a team meeting and told the kids, I was a blubbering fool,” Butts siad. “It’s difficult to walk away from the kids because you always feel like you’re letting them down.
“I tried to explain it had nothing to do with them. It was just the fact that I was a tired old man and needed a break. Hopefully they understand I’ll be rooting for them and cheering for them, and if they need any help from me, my door’s always open.”
He coached in the New Miami and Talawanda districts before coming to Ross. Butts graduated from New Miami High School in 1982 and played football there under his father Herman, who was the defensive coordinator.
“When I got into college, I was going to do different things. Then I realized I was coaching and I loved working with kids, so I got into teaching, and those kind of went hand in hand,” said Butts, who started coaching junior high football soon after his graduation from New Miami.
The Rams earned pieces of FAVC titles in 2009 and 2011, making postseason appearances both years. Ross had the misfortune of drawing the eventual state champion each time, losing to Winton Woods (59-7) in 2009 and Trotwood-Madison (53-7) in 2011.
“I’m thankful that Keith Klinefelter and Doug Noonan gave me an opportunity to be head football coach here,” Butts said. “That was a very important part of my life.
“The day after I met with (principal) Brian Martin and we talked and I told him I was going to be resigning, the stress kind of left my shoulders. It’s almost like you’re the father of 50 kids. Now I get to focus on being a father to my three daughters and being a good husband for a while.”
Butts is employed by Butler Tech and teaches in a dropout prevention program at Ross.