Andy Maurer has stepped away from the high school football program he started nearly two decades ago.

Andy Maurer has stepped away from the high school football program he started nearly two decades ago.

The Cascade Christian coach turned in his resignation Tuesday, and the program was then turned over on an interim basis to Jon Gettman, a former player for Maurer who has been on the Challengers' coaching staff for five years.

Gettman is a 2003 graduate of Cascade Christian and a 2007 graduate of Southern Oregon University. He wasn't expecting the move when he spoke with Maurer Monday night, and Maurer didn't go into detail about his decision, said Gettman.

Maurer could not be reached Friday.

"He's talked to me the last couple years about, if he were to resign, he's preparing me for the job," said Gettman.

Athletic director Dave Fennell said the same thing in making the announcement Friday.

"Andy has mentored Jon, both as a player and a peer," Fennell said in a release. "Jon has had growing responsibility, and we are giving him an opportunity to run the football program during the 2010 season. We are looking forward to continued success both on and off the field."

The rest of the coaching staff will remain intact.

Maurer, 62, founded the program 18 years ago, and in recent years, the Challengers have been a state powerhouse.

A former NFL offensive lineman who played in two Super Bowls, Maurer amassed a 100-78 record while Cascade Christian competed in the Class 3A to 1A classifications.

The Challengers reached the state playoffs six times, winning the Class 2A crown in 2006 before the school moved up to 3A.

Cascade Christian has made the semifinals three of the past four seasons and enjoyed unbeaten regular seasons in 2005 and '09.

Gettman doesn't view the appointment as daunting.

"I'm absolutely excited," said Gettman, the offensive coordinator the past two seasons. "Andy has set up a phenomenal foundation for me and the coaching staff to build upon."

The most important aspect Maurer passed on to Gettman, he said, is to cover the bases and prepare for game time, but never forget it's a game and that the kids should have fun.

"That's what Andy bestowed on me when I played," said Gettman. "Don't overdo it to where you're neglecting anyone. Do it right, work hard and enjoy it."

The Challengers return four players with starting experience on offense and three players — seniors-to-be Tyler Stickler, Tyler Marshall and Brock Scott — on defense who have contributed at least three years on varsity.

"We lose a lot, but we also have a senior class that's ready to step up and lead as well," said Gettman. "We've lost a lot throughout the years, but with the program established and 60 guys in the program, there have been opportunities for younger guys to step up and continue the success over the past few years."

Last season, top-ranked Cascade Christian lost in the state semifinals to Amity, 21-17, to finish with an 11-1 record. Amity went on to win the championship.

Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479, or e-mail ttrower@mailtribune.com