After seven seasons as the Etiwanda High School head football coach and “31 straight years on a football team,” Steve Bryce will resign effective at semester’s end on Dec. 21.
Bryce has been on the Etiwanda sideline in some capacity for the last 15 seasons but with his first child due in January, Bryce and his wife decided it best for him to step down. He will continue to teach anatomy and physiology at Etiwanda.
“It’s going to be tough,” Bryce said. “It was difficult telling the players because I didn’t want them to think I was abandoning them. I’ll still be here for them but I wanted them to understand that I was putting my family first for the first time ever.”
In sevens seasons as the head coach, Bryce led Etiwanda to two co-Baseline League championships and five playoff appearances. The only two seasons his teams missed the playoffs were his first in 2005 and last season, when the Eagles finished fourth in a league that sent two teams to the CIF-SS Inland Division semifinals. A disappointing 2011 season had nothing to do with Bryce’s decision.
“With him having a kid, he said he could try and do both but he’d be cheating somebody,” Etiwanda athletic director Dave Masucci said. “He said he didn’t want to cheat his family or the football program. Coaching football is a different beast. It takes a lot out of you, especially to be the head coach when you’re actually doing less coaching and more worrying about fund raising and administrative things.”
Bryce’s program seemed to be peaking prior to this season. In 2009, the Eagles went 8-4, their highest win total under Bryce. Last season, Etiwanda went 6-6, advancing to the Inland Division quarterfinals and winning a playoff game for the second consecutive season.
The 2011 season was a rollercoaster for Etiwanda, beginning with a blowout win over a Summit team playing for the Eastern Division title on Saturday. It included losses on the last play to Baseline League champion Upland and a Vista Murrieta team that will play for the Inland Division title on Friday.
Following this year, Bryce sat down with his wife as he does every year. This one was different in that it was the first postseason conversation since they had even decided to have kids, much less had one one the way.
“We had just always thought that I’d be a coach because we didn’t think we wanted to have kids,” Bryce said. “But we changed our mind a while ago about having children and then we decided that I would take this year away from coaching. If after a year I still have the coaching bug, maybe I’ll give it a shot somewhere else.”