Mark Wechter thought about it for a long time.
"Actually, it was a five-year decision process," Wechter said Friday morning after announcing his resignation as head football coach at Washington Township High School.
Wechter, a physical education teacher at the school, said he was "very much at peace" in stepping away after 11 seasons in charge of the Minutemen program.
"It's time," Wechter said. "It's time for a change. I'm 45 (years old) and I just think this is the right move at this time."
Wechter said he hopes to "rejuvenate professionally" and maybe return to coaching as an assistant in another season or two.
"I've really missed being an assistant coach, a position coach, having your guys," Wechter said. "When you become a head coach, you're an administrator. It's different."
Wechter said he has pondered this decision for the better part of five years. He said he hopes to spend the next year "re-evaluating" and seeing the sport that has been one of the focal points of his life from a different angle.
"I've talked to coaches who have stepped away," Wechter said. "I want to experience that. I love football. I want to get back into football.
"But right now, I want to take a step back."
Wechter's teams were 65-47 in his time in charge of the Minutemen, making the state tournament eight times and winning conference titles in 2006, 2007 and 2015.
Wechter's team in 2011 played two remarkable South Jersey Group 4 tournament games, rallying for an emotional 42-23 victory over rival Williamstown and losing 42-41 the next week to Millville.
Wechter's 2016 team was 4-6, losing to Williamstown on Thanksgiving Day.
"The Washington Township community has made a huge impact in my life," Wechter wrote in his letter of resignation, according to the school district's statement. "The school district's administration has supported me every step of the way.
"My players through the years have taught me more than I have taught them and the relationships that I have developed have been maintained well into adulthood."
Washington Township athletic director Kevin Murphy praised Wechter's commitment to developing his players off the field.
"He has devoted much of his coaching career to students at WTHS," Murphy said. "It has been my pleasure to work with Coach Wechter for the past 11 seasons. He is a man who valued the growth and development of his student-athletes into young adults."
Wechter's resignation creates an opening in charge of one of South Jersey's premier large-school programs.
"They're in a good spot," Wechter said of the program. "There's talent coming back and this is a great place to coach."
Wechter took over the Washington Township program in February 2006 after the death of legendary former coach Tom Brown.
Wechter also was head coach at Gateway for five seasons from 1997-2001.
"I'm moving on to rejuvenate myself personally and professionally," Wechter said in his letter.
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