MIDDLEBURY — Jon Kirkton still believes Northridge High School can field a successful program.
The 2013 season, though, will be directed by another coach.
Kirkton, who coached the last 10 seasons with the Raiders, had resigned four weeks ago, but his resignation was not finalized until Tuesday’s school board meeting.
In the school community, however, it wasn’t much of a secret.
Kirkton told his players prior to the team’s regular-season finale that this would be his final year.
Northridge lost that week to Memorial, then beat Angola in the opening round of the Class 4A sectional before being eliminated by Concord.
“I don’t know if the message got old,” Kirkton said Tuesday night, “but when you don’t have success, people want changes X’s and O’s wise.
“It’s been rough on my family and the coaches who put a lot of time in trying to turn it around. It’s hard to say, ‘I wish had done this or that.’”
In 10 seasons, Kirkton’s teams finished 22-81 with only 12 victories in the Northern Lakes Conference. His best mark was in 2009 when the Raiders went 6-5 overall and finished 4-3 in the league.
When Kirkton stepped into the head coaching slot in 2003, he inherited a team which was winless in 2002. Northridge also went 0-10 in ’03 and later in 2011.
This fall, the Raiders ended 2-9, though they were 1-10 on Friday nights. The second victory came via forfeit from South Bend Adams.
Despite those numbers, Kirkton said he enjoyed his “best year ever as a staff” and he thinks success can come to Middlebury football.
“I said yes (when hired) and now I’d still say yes even I came back next year. I believe in the same thing,” Kirkton said. “There’s always going to be community pressure ... certain things have to happen.
“Part of the reason I got the job was they knew I knew what I was getting into,” Kirkton said. “We’ve got to get the kids out and ultimately, we didn’t.”
Kirkton, who in recent seasons had helped coach boys track and basketball, will continue to teach math at Northridge.
Northridge began football in 1971. In 42 campaigns, the Raiders have compiled a 133-282 record under seven head coaches — a winning percentage of .320.
The Raiders have manged only two winning seasons since 1977.