Stratford Principal Mike Steele thought he had a football coach for the foreseeable future in January when he hired Aaron Pitts.
On Wednesday, Steele announced that Spartans assistant Brian Harrell would take over on an interim basis, following Pitts’ departure last week to take the Marshall County job.
“The boys like him, the coaching staff likes and respects him,” Steele said of Harrell, who also coaches the school’s track team. “We’re not going to fill the position (permanently) before the year starts. It’s not fair to the boys.”
Pitts had been an assistant at Warren County prior to taking over the Stratford program. He spent three seasons as an assistant at Marshall County.
“Marshall County’s always been a job I wanted, since I came here in 2007,” said Pitts, who had been commuting from Unionville in Bedford County for six years.
“The job came open. I hated to do that to Stratford. I respect Mr. Steele a lot. He gave me my first (head coaching) job. I hate that it was late, but it was an opportunity I could not pass up.
“I’ve been driving all this time from Unionville, and I promised my wife the first opportunity I got to be closer, I’d take it.”
Steele was bothered by the timing of Pitts’ departure and of when he was informed that it would take place.
“I received an e-mail from a reporter asking me to confirm that (Pitts) was resigning,” Steele said. “I called him and he confirmed that he was on his way to school to tell me. To find out in an e-mail from a reporter, I don’t think any principal in the country wants to have that happen. I told Coach Pitts, I wish him the best and what goes around comes around.”
Harrell admitted the timing isn’t optimal but said he, his new assistants and his team aren’t dwelling on that.
“Nobody’s going to make excuses for us if we go 0-10,” Harrell said. “We’ve got to pick it up and keep it moving. The kids are a little torn, a little upset, but we’re going to try to make the best of the situation.”