WOLCOTT — When Mark Gretencord asked to be the Tri-County football coach two years ago, it was with the intent of staying with the program for many years.
But Gretencord was recently notified by athletic director Jeff LeBeau that he will no longer serve in that capacity after going 3-14 in two seasons.
“It was not my decision,” he said.
Gretencord never did get to enjoy off-season workouts with his players. He was hired in late August 2019 after former coach Sam Zachary accepted a boys’ basketball job at North Newton. He put his athletes through the paces for a couple of days before that season’s first game.
Meanwhile, the COVID pandemic forced schools to cancel in-person instruction last spring and denied football teams the chance to coordinate off-season workouts this past summer.
“It’s one of those things,” Gretencord said. “I’m proud of the kids and the effort they gave me the entire time. It’s tough not having off-seasons, especially with a new coach because I really never had an off-season with the kids. I certainly enjoyed working with them.”
Like all prep programs throughout the nation, Gretencord, his players and his staff endured a difficult 2020 season due to the pandemic. The Cavaliers, who finished 2-5, had three games wiped off the schedule due to COVID cases at the school and elsewhere.
“We missed three home games,” Gretencord said. “You get told twice on a Friday night that you’re not playing when you planned all week, it was tough. But again, our kids showed resiliency and were ready to play.”
The two wins this fall came against West Central and South Newton. Gretencord’s Cavaliers were 2-0 against the rival Rebels over his two seasons.
TC had its season cut short in the first round of the Class A sectional, losing 13-12 to Traders Point Christian. The Cavaliers went for the win, trying a two-point conversion with seven seconds left in the game. But the try was snuffed by a quarterback sack.
“They competed hard in that sectional game,” Gretencord said of the 2020 outcome. “We had a chance to win, but didn’t get it done.”
A 1994 graduate of Tri-County, where he played football and basketball, Gretencord has served as the school’s boys’ basketball coach since the 2017-18 season.
The pandemic has again intruded on another sport at TCHS, with four games postponed due to COVID concerns. The Cavaliers, who are currently 3-7, didn’t play a game from Nov. 27 to Dec. 19.
Even though Gretencord endured long days and even longer nights with practices and games, he still had plans to continue patrolling the sidelines of both sports in the near future.
“I went to them and asked, ‘Hey, would you allow me to do both,’” he said. “I’m gracious they gave me the opportunity to do that for those two years.”