By Phil Anastasia

Inquirer Staff Writer

John Doherty knew it was the right time.

"As a football coach, you can feel it in your gut," Doherty said of his decision to resign Tuesday as head coach at Paul VI High School.

Doherty revitalized Paul VI's program in 13 seasons with the Eagles.

His teams went a combined 75-56, won seven division titles and made 10 appearances in the state tournament.

Doherty, who teaches middle school in Pennsauken, said he wanted to "spend more time" with a family that includes two young daughters.

"It was a tough, tough decision," Doherty said. "Very tough. But it's time to take a step back. I know it's the right thing for me to do at this time."

Doherty said he met with his players after school on Tuesday.

"That was tough -- a lot of tears," Doherty said. "I'm going to miss those kids. I've been lucky. We get such great kids at Paul VI."

Paul VI struggled for several seasons before Doherty took over and turned the Eagles into one of South Jersey's most respected programs.

Doherty's first team went 0-10 in 2003. But the Eagles fashioned .500-or-better records in 10 of the next 12 seasons, including marks of 9-2 in 2007, 9-1 in 2009 and 8-2 in 2010.

"I'm proud of that, turning the program around," Doherty said. "I'm proud of all the kids I coached, going on to college and career and some of them have families now. It's hard to believe it's been 13 years."

Doherty said he began giving this decision some serious thought in the last month. Paul VI finished its season with a 6-4 record after a Thanksgiving Day loss to rival Camden Catholic.

"I just really want to be able to spend a little more time with my family," Doherty said. "It's tough as a football coach. It's so demanding and we all go through it. I just felt like it was the right time to step back a little bit."

Doherty said he hopes to cooach again.

"Definitely," Doherty said. "I just want to re-charge a little bit and then we'll see."

-- Contact Phil Anastasia at panastasia@phillynews.com

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