He stood in front of his players for the last time, in classroom 30 at West Deptford High School, adjacent to the trainer's room and across the hall from the weight room that has been his home away from home.

"I got emotional, as soon as I started talking," said Clyde Folsom, who announced his resignation as West Deptford's wildly successful football coach in a meeting with his team after school Friday.

"They're kids, 15, 16, 17 years old," Folsom said. "I had to hold it together. It wasn't easy."

Folsom, 60, resigned after one of the greatest coaching careers in South Jersey history. He turned a struggling team at West Deptford into a gold-standard program over 27 seasons.

"He's the big man around here," West Deptford junior running back/defensive back Kenny Lim said. "It's every kid's dream growing up to play for him at the high school."

Clyde Folsom on the sidelines against Woodbury in 2012.
CURT HUDSON
Clyde Folsom on the sidelines against Woodbury in 2012.

Folsom is fourth on South Jersey's all-time list for career victories with a record of 261-71-5. He was 227-60-2 at West Deptford, where his teams won seven South Jersey Group 2 titles and made 13 appearances in the South Jersey Group 2 finals in the last 16 seasons.

"They say you'll know when it's time, and I knew it was time," Folsom said, sitting in his office a few minutes after announcing his decision to his players. "I always said if being a head coach ever started to feel like a job, then it was time to go.

"The last year and a half, two years, it felt like a job."

Folsom plans to remain at the school as a health and physical education teacher as well as assistant athletic director. He also plans to remain strength and conditioning coordinator for the football program.

"I'll still be around," Folsom said. "It's me stepping aside, letting someone new come in, maybe with a new vision, give the kids the energy and passion they deserve.

"For so many years, I couldn't wait to get out on the practice field. That's our time, to teach and motivate. And I stopped enjoying that as much as I used to, and that's not fair to the kids."

Folsom, a Mainland graduate, was 34-11-3 in five seasons at Bishop Eustace before taking over at West Deptford in 1991. He led West Deptford to 12-0 seasons in 2003, 2004, 2012 and 2016. His teams were an astounding 168-19 in the last 16 seasons.

West Deptford was 10-2 in Folsom's final season. The Eagles lost, 21-17, to rival Haddonfield on Sunday in the South Jersey Group 2 title game.

Folsom revitalized more than a football team at West Deptford. In some ways, he also changed the school and the town, raising the profile and standards of the athletic program and turning home games into social events on Friday nights in the fall.

Folsom's teams were known for their commitment to the weight room, their off-season training, and their execution of the wing-T offense. The Eagles perennially were one of South Jersey's top rushing teams, averaging around 350 yards per game.

Clyde Folsom gets hugs after winning the South Jersey Group 2 championship game over Point Pleasant Boro on November 29 , 2007.
ELIZABETH ROBERTSON
Clyde Folsom gets hugs after winning the South Jersey Group 2 championship game over Point Pleasant Boro on November 29 , 2007.

Folsom took over a struggling program at West Deptford. In the 11 seasons from 1980-90, the Eagles went 19-74-2 with three 0-9 seasons and zero winning seasons, per research by state sports historian Chuck Langerman.

Folsom gradually built the Eagles into a South Jersey power. The program broke through with a dramatic, 21-20 overtime win over Buena — sealed with a stop of the Chiefs' two-point conversion try — in the South Jersey Group 2 title game on a muddy home field banked with snow in December 2002.

That kicked off a run of three consecutive South Jersey titles as the Eagles also won the crown in 2003 and 2004 with a pair of 12-0 seasons featuring star players such as Anthony Scirrotto and Kordell Young.

From 2002 through this season, West Deptford never won fewer than nine games.

"This is a great place to coach," Folsom said. "The community is great, the administration has been so supportive, and the parents and kids, I can't thank them enough."

Folsom said he wanted to spent more time with his family, especially his grandchildren.

"It wasn't one thing," Folsom said. "It's hard to put into words. It was a combination of things. Maybe open a new chapter. Maybe venture out and do different things, not football. The real reason is I just knew the time was right."