North Medford High wrestling coach Phillip Lopez isn't the type to get carried away.
The title of "Longest-Tenured Football Coach in Josephine County" will officially change hands in the fall of 2013.
Jim Figoni, who guided Hidden Valley High for the last 19 seasons, has stepped away from the program, Athletic Director Jamie Ongman confirmed Tuesday.
"Hidden Valley, with the administration, appreciates what Jim has done for our school," Ongman said. "We wish him the best."
The Mustangs have been Pittsburgh Steeler-esque with their lack of coaching turnover. The Steelers have had three coaches since 1969, while Hidden Valley has had just two — Figoni and Mike Porzio — since 1984.
Figoni coached from 1984-86, stepped aside and served as an assistant for Porzio from 1987-93, then returned to his head coaching post in 1994 and served in that spot for the last 19 seasons.
Figoni compiled a 114-103 record during his two tenures that spanned 22 seasons. During his most recent stint, the Mustangs went 105-86, a mark that was hindered in 2011 when the team forfeited all 10 games for using an ineligible player.
The Mustangs made the playoffs 10 times during Figoni's watch and advanced to the state quarterfinal round three times.
Figoni, a three-year letter winner who played center at the University of Oregon from 1970-72, guided Hidden Valley to its first Skyline Conference championship in 1997. In 1998, Figoni's team won its first playoff game since 1978.
His program reached the nine-win plateau four times (1997, '98, 2005, '06).
Hidden Valley defensive coordinator Matt Kennedy — who has known Figoni since his days as a sixth-grader at Lincoln Savage Middle School, where Figoni was a counselor — said the news came as a surprise.
Kennedy starred as a quarterback for the Mustangs in the late 90s and started out as an HV assistant in 2001.
"He is Hidden Valley for a lot of people," Kennedy said. "I've known him most of my life. He's served as a role model and mentor, not just in the game of football, but in life. He's been a go-to guy for me."
North Valley's Todd Willaman, who's coached opposite Figoni since 2002 in the annual cross-valley showdown, is now the area's longest-tenured head coach with 11 years under his belt.
Ongman said he planned to have an official job listing posted "within a month or so" to begin the hiring process. He wouldn't commit to keeping the job in-house, but if the best fit proves to be an internal candidate, then that's who will guide the Mustangs next season and beyond.
"I think it's an even drawing board," said Ongman, who is in his first year at HV. "Through the process, the right person will come forth.
"Out of respect to Jim and the program, we need to get someone who can continue the program the way he left it. We'll choose the best candidate to fill the big shoes Jim left."