It was time.
Hillsboro High School head football coach Len Coryea can count on one hand the number of times he’s gone fishing in the fall the past 44 years.
A veteran of the gridiron, Coryea stepped down as HHS head coach after five years at the helm.
For the past 44 falls he has been involved with the game of football.
“After 44 years of coaching or playing football, you look at it and say, ‘What’s out there in the fall’?” he said.
Coryea, who teaches science, language arts, reading, and Kansas history at Hillsboro Middle School, came to HHS in 1986 as an assistant under longtime headman, Don Penner.
“He gave me a lot of freedom,” Coryea, who coached the defense, said.
Now, Coryea will have a little more freedom in the fall, but he said he is stepping down with nothing but good feelings for the Trojan football program.
“In five years I can only name two or three weeks with bad practices,” he said. “If I leave on a positive note, hopefully people will like me on a positive note,” he said with a laugh.
In five years, Coryea was 27-25, 4-3 in the playoffs, and 3-2 against rival Marion.
After finishing the 2006 regular season 6-3, he guided the team to three straight playoff victories before falling to runner-up Garden Plain in the semis.
He said he thought a 2007, second-round playoff loss to Conway Springs was his last game.
He stood on the field afterward, pondering what retirement from the game he loved would be like.
And then he came back for one more season.
This year, he knew after a first-round loss to Hutchinson Trinity, it was time.
Looking back, he has enjoyed the past five years.
However, it almost didn’t happen.
When the job became vacant, Coreya didn’t even think of applying. That is, until a player who he went to church with urged him to throw his name in the ring.
“I did, and they gave it to me,” he said. “And I enjoyed it. It’s been fun.”
From his high school days in Pennsylvania, to his collegiate playing days at Sterling College, Coryea has loved the game of football.
“I don’t won’t to get to be a dinosaur in the sport,” he said. “It’s not like I’m mad at people. “There was no gun to my head.”
It was time.