Augusta Christian’s Keith Walton said Wednesday stepping down as head football coach was an easy decision.
Walton, the school’s middle school principal, said family comes first, especially after his father-in-law died last month. Now, he’s dealing with personal issues unrelated to anything on the gridiron.
“I can’t be in two places at once,” Walton said. “So I thought the best thing to do was to step away right now and let somebody else head it up. Eventually, I’ll come back and assist again. I have no desire to go anywhere else.”
Walton, 45, told school administrators and football players his plans earlier this week.
He will remain as the middle school principal and will help with the girls basketball team this winter.
Walton said the school will take its time hiring his replacement, especially with the public and private school football seasons still active. He said he expects a head coach to be hired within the next few months.
Walton, an Augusta Christian graduate, started helping with the football team in 1992. He remained as the program’s main assistant through the years, twice turning down opportunities to lead the Lions before becoming the school’s head coach in 2009.
“The opportunity came up twice to be the head coach, but I knew I wasn’t ready,” he said. “When I finally got to where I was ready, I took it.”
His first season, Walton led a young squad loaded with freshman.
Four years later, those players became seniors, and helped the Lions go 13-0 and win a state championship.
He went 33-13 his first four seasons. Since then, his teams combined for 13 wins in five seasons. Augusta Christian went 2-8 this fall, dropping its final five contests.
Three of those losses were by a touchdown and in all three games the Lions had a touchdown called back because of penalty.
Walton said his team was very young this past season – just like his first team in 2009. Augusta Christian featured just three seniors and 14 freshmen.
“Whoever is going to be the head coach,” Walton said, “the program is a lot healthier than when I took over.”