CENTRAL POINT — John Beck guided Crater’s football program to some of its biggest moments after joining the school in 2004, but, after 13 years, the veteran coach has decided to give someone else a chance to build on that foundation.
Citing a desire to spend more time with his family, Beck resigned on Thursday, and the announcement was made Friday, first to the Comet players and then to the public.
Crater athletic director David Heard said he and Beck had been in communication about his desire to potentially step away from the football program since the start of the week but still was “a little surprised” when the final verdict came in Thursday.
“These decisions aren’t made quickly, I know, I’ve done it once,” said Heard, who is in his second term as Crater’s girls basketball head coach. “A lot of thought goes into it. It’s weird because high school athletics is not your career but you’re defined by it, I guess. You’re paid as a teacher and high school coach is not your livelihood, it’s a hobby with a little bit of money that comes with it, but that doesn’t really pay anything.”
In 13 years at Crater, Beck compiled a 69-68 record with four conference championships. He previously guided North Medford to a 28-7 record in three seasons as head coach, which included a state runner-up finish in 2003, for a 97-75 career total.
In a news release from the Central Point School District, Beck said: “I’ve committed myself to Crater football for the past 13 years and while I don’t regret a single minute of it, I’m looking forward to being able to support my own kids who are heavily involved in their own activities.”
It was a somewhat surprising move when Beck assumed control of the Comets after having success at North Medford following Rod Rumrey’s reign. Crater hadn’t had a winning season since 1994, no playoff berths since 1985 and zero playoff victories when it handed the reins to Beck, who also became athletic director and assistant principal with the move to Central Point. Crater had also gone through three head coaches in nine seasons prior to his hiring.
The Comet fortunes rose and fell largely depending on their classification, with all of their league titles under Beck coming at the Class 5A level after a handful of years at the state’s largest class, but the head coach remained steadfast in building all areas of his program.
In Beck’s tenure at Crater, the school saw major facility upgrades with the addition of artificial turf, a revamped weight room, stadium improvements and, this past season, the installation of a video scoreboard.
“He’s had a big impact on the program,” Heard said of Beck. “The stability has been great over 13 years and John and I have had a great working relationship. … He and I have had the same vision in improving facilities, and he’s been instrumental working with me in all that while always having a good football team.”
“I appreciate the state that he’s left everything in and I’m looking forward to his insight as we move forward also,” added Heard.
Beck’s high-water mark at Crater came in 2015 when the Comets advanced to the state semifinals for the first time in school history after a program-best 11-0 start. The Midwestern League champions finished 11-1 that season, but with only a handful of holdovers, couldn’t recreate the same magic in 2016 in going 5-5 overall and 4-3 in the MWL to finish in a tie for fourth place.
The news release also highlighted Beck’s ability to help players advance to the next level, with 31 players signing to play college football in his tenure.
Heard said the head coaching position will be posted on Monday and close Feb. 24. A committee has been formed to handle the interview process. Heard said he hopes a decision will be made by the end of March.
“These things aren’t easy, there’s some work to do,” said Heard. “We don’t just interview for 10 minutes and move forward. There’s a lot to running a football program besides just X’s and O’s. In fact, as head coach, a lot of it is not X’s and O’s. It’s fundraising and working with the community and things like that. It’s a lot of work even besides watching film on Saturdays and Sundays and whenever you can fit it in, so we’ve got to find the right fit moving forward.”
Whoever is selected, Heard said, he feels confident that the program will continue its upward trend thanks to the hard work put in by Beck and his staff.
“I feel very good for whoever comes in about the situation that they’re coming into,” said Heard. “The cupboards aren’t dry. Our facilities are outstanding and I feel our administration and community supports the football program. I think things are in place to really move forward and they’ve been left in a good way.”
Beck grew up in Molalla and played football at Southern Oregon University, ultimately returning to the Rogue Valley in 1998. He spent 16 years as an assistant coach before succeeding Rumrey in 2001.
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry