- Rick Cassano Staff Writer
The Lance Engleka era of Middletown High School football is over.
Engleka said he submitted his resignation Saturday after going 1-19 in two seasons at the helm.
He responded to an interview request by texting, “You can request a copy of my resignation letter. It’s a public document. It states everything I have to say on the matter.”
Cox Media has made an official request for that letter.
Middletown athletic director Aaron Zupka said there was no movement from the administration to remove Engleka from his coaching position before he resigned.
“This was his own decision. We didn’t have any conversations about it,” Zupka said. “I think we were all caught a little off guard, but I respect his decision.
“Lance had a good two years here. I think he did a lot of things that set the foundation for where we’re trying to go. We had some of the best years of academic success and eligibility here. We’ve had some great offseason programs. He’s a very organized, structured guy, so I thank him for his time and leadership.
“We’ve been very young with not a lot of depth over the last two seasons. I think Lance really got the most out of what he had to work with. We have some good young kids, and I think a lot of things are cyclical. I think our better years are ahead of us. We do have high expectations, but we know you have to stick to the process and be patient sometimes.”
The Middies finished 1-9 in 2017, defeating Oak Hills 28-21 on Oct. 20.
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Engleka, Middletown’s dean of students, has a 7-33 head coaching record. He was 3-7 in back-to-back seasons at Twin Valley South in 2011-12.
The head job will be posted internally first, then outside the district. Zupka said the goal is to have a new coach in place before Jan. 1.
“We think our program is a great opportunity for somebody. It has a ton of potential,” Zupka said. “We think having the job open now will give us the opportunity to go after some of the brightest and finest people out there. Obviously we want to wait until the playoffs are done. There may be some coaches on the staffs of those teams who may be interested. We’ll wait a couple weeks and let everything settle down, and in December we’ll go hard with it.”
Middletown hasn’t had a winning season since going 10-2 in 2011. Zupka conceded that one victory in the last two seasons is not what he’s looking for in the program, but noted that the record is only part of the equation.
“A lot of people just see the record, but if you’re on the inside looking out, I think you have a different perspective,” Zupka said. “There’s a whole lot of positivity around here. Looking at big-picture stuff, we have all the school renovations, the new school, the new arena. We have a new superintendent (Marlon Styles) who’s phenomenal, one of the most energetic guys you’ll ever meet. I think we’re trending in the right direction.”