January 05, 2012 | 10:53 PMWILLIAMS BAY -- "I bleed black and orange. I want nothing but success for these student-athletes."
That's what Buddy Breen said Thursday night when asked about the future of the Williams Bay football program.
At least for now, the future won't include Breen, who stepped down as head varsity football coach after four seasons.
Breen, who starred for the Bulldogs in the 1980s and currently teaches physical education at the high school, handed in his letter of resignation to Superintendent Vance Dalzin in early November. The resignation was approved at the Nov. 14 Williams Bay School Board meeting.
Breen was a standout fullback and linebacker from 1984-87 and is in the school's Wall of Fame. He started as an assistant football coach in 1995 and took over as head coach in 2008. But after posting a 1-35 record (the lone win was by forfeit), Breen felt he had no choice but to make a change.
"It's time to step aside," he said. "I have to let someone else try it out. It's disheartening, and it hurts me to see the program not have success. Guys were pouring their hearts and souls in it, and we weren't having success."
Breen said he would be open to helping the team out in some capacity in the future, whether it be as an assistant coach or volunteer.
Entering the 2011 season, hopes were high. The Bay implemented more offseason programs including speed camps and football camps. Also, Lake Geneva Generals head coach Derek Diehl helped out on the sidelines in 2011. The Bulldogs' closest game in four years was Sept. 16, a 12-7 loss to Maranatha Baptist. Maranatha scored the winning touchdown with less than a minute remaining.
It was that kind of tenure for Breen. Things just didn't go right for the Bulldogs.
"We increased our football activities exponentially before last season," Breen said. "The question was why weren't the wins there? It it very frustrating."
Breen said he hopes the new coach sticks with the current system. He said players have taken strides each year in the weight room and with conditioning.
"We laid down a good base, and we have been building off it each year," Breen said.
He vows to always be there for the athletes. According to Breen, the bond he developed with players was the highlight of his head coaching career.
"The players are kind of like my own kids," he said. "My office door will always be open. Without question, I most enjoyed my emotional, intimate relationship with the players. You're laying your manhood on the line in football, and these kids can't experience that in school. You develop such a special bond in football. I have no regrets at all."
Breen added he hopes the next coach is someone who currently is working at the school.
This would allow the student-athletes more access to the coach for questions, whether they involve football or personal matters.
An obvious choice would be Diehl, who led the Generals to a division title in their expansion season. Diehl recently moved to Williams Bay, and he is actively involved with school Sports (he was in attendance at Thursday's boys basketball game) and the community.
Also, Bay assistant coach John Higgins has been with the team for several years and has chemistry with the 17 returning players for 2012. Higgins could provide a seamless transition by keeping things status quo.
Former Bay coach Bill Blakeley, who compiled more than 400 victories at Williams Bay and is a Wall of Fame member, can't be ruled out.
A Williams Bay native, Blakeley led the Bulldogs to the football playoffs in seven of 10 eligible seasons. He won 10 combined conference titles in football and basketball.
The school is desperate for wins on the football field, and it is safe to bet all possibilities are being explored.
For a full story, check Wednesday's Regional News.