A winning record and a PIAA District 1 Class AAAA playoff appearance this season were not enough for Tom Coates to keep his job as head football coach at Council Rock North.
In the school's decision not to renew Coates' contract, C.R. North athletic director Dan Griesbaum said "the main issue was the continuing decline in team numbers. When we went from a program with 70 or 80 kids to less than half that number, it was time to try to get the program going in a different direction."
Coates, who compiled a 12-19 record in three seasons, said the opening-day varsity roster had 56 players on it, and the Indians finished with 45.
"Numbers had declined," he said, "but coaches of other sports at the school were also having a problem with numbers. We were working very hard to recruit kids from within the school. I think next year's team will have better numbers, but my detractors will say that's because I'm gone."
After a pair of 3-7 campaigns, Coates this season guided the Indians to a 6-5 overall record and a 4-3 mark in the Suburban One League National Conference. The squad qualified for the District 1 tournament and lost to top-seeded North Penn, 39-12, in the opening round.
"I was shocked," Coates, 53, said, "but I don't think it came down to wins and losses. There are some things that I didn't do well as far as working with some off-the-field issues. The majority of it may have been the philosophical differences between [Griesbaum] and myself. I wasn't wise enough to find a way to overcome it."
Coates played guard and linebacker at Lincoln High under Lou Grandizio and was a middle linebacker at West Chester University. He captained the 1977 Golden Rams.
At C.R. North, where he is a teacher, Coates was coaching his son, Joe, a junior running back and linebacker. Another son, Tom, played football at the school, graduating in 2005.
Coates is scheduled to meet with the football players this afternoon.
"I hope it's a celebration of how far we've come," he said. "I don't want the kids to focus on anything negative. The message I'm going to give them is, 'Accept the new coach with open arms.' "