As Matt Jordan reflected on his five seasons as football coach at Grove City High School, he became emotional.
He has fond memories of his tenure, which ended Nov. 5 when he resigned because of family and work commitments.
"It's always a difficult decision and my wife (Kate) has been bawling all day, and we've been talking about this since July," Jordan said. "Since we've known each other, this has been our life. ... Football has been a major part of our lives."
Jordan, 38, led the Dawgs to a 24-27 overall record that included a 21-14 mark in the OCC-Ohio Division. He previously coached at Painesville Riverside and Garrettsville Garfield.
Grove City qualified for the playoffs once under Jordan, in his first year in 2008, and lost to Hilliard Davidson 38-7 in a Division I, Region 3 first-round game.
The following season, extracurricular activities in South-Western City Schools were canceled after voters rejected a levy.
"I look forward to the challenges of the next chapter," said Jordan, who teaches at Grove City. "What is that going to be? I'm going to take a look at becoming a principal, which is the next progression in the education cycle. You start looking at moving up the ladder and doing things."
This season, the Dawgs won their final three games to finish 6-4 overall and 5-2 in the league. They finished 18th in Division I, Region 2, two spots from the final playoff berth.
Three of their opponents -- Hilliard Davidson, Pickerington Central and Pickerington North -- qualified for the playoffs.
Senior quarterback Cameron Meece rushed for 996 yards and 10 touchdowns on 179 carries and completed 53 of 98 passes for 689 yards with five touchdowns and four interceptions.
One of 21 seniors, Meece was first-team all-league. He said Jordan was a big part of the program's progress.
"There's some good kids coming up and he turned that program around after that levy failed," Meece said.
Junior linebacker Vennie Sapp led the team in tackles with 54.5 and was first-team all-league.
Also named to the first team were seniors Ben Myers (DB/WR) and Ryan Serafini (DL). Myers had a team-high four interceptions and 37.5 tackles.
Senior running back Corey Williams was second-team all-league. He had 726 yards rushing and eight touchdowns on 110 carries.
Also named to the second team were seniors Matt Brown (OL), Tyler Cowles (DB) and Will Zentz (DL).
Senior Austin Burgett (LB/TE), who had 29.5 tackles, was special mention all-league and junior Ryan Grooms (LB) was honorable mention all-league.
Junior Peyton Bowyer (DB) had 45.5 tackles.
Senior Ike Pack (RB) rushed for 379 yards and five touchdowns on 59 carries and senior Paul Saunders (WR) led the team in receiving with 13 catches for 189 yards and a touchdown.
Other key returning players should be juniors Jacob Minerd (OL), Brandon Skeen (OL) and Cole Smoot (DL/OL) and sophomores Nathan Hawk (DB/WR) and Jason Miller (DL).
After losing to Reynoldsburg 21-10 on Sept. 20, the Dawgs won five of their last six games, capped by a 34-24 victory Nov. 1 over North, costing the Panthers the outright OCC-Ohio title.
Jordan credited the senior class for leading the second-half success.
"It was a great group of kids," he said. "That's why we were able to keep playing well towards the end. Obviously, we played our best football at the end of the season and they're a big reason for that. We didn't have any discipline issues off the field with this group of kids. They're good young men."
North shared the league title with Central at 6-1, finishing ahead of Grove City, Lancaster (3-4), Reynoldsburg (3-4), Gahanna (3-4), Groveport (1-6) and Newark (1-6).
"I'm happy the season ended on a high note, but we wanted that playoff run," Meece said. "We wanted a chance to keep going. We had a few tough losses and we were so close to keeping it going."
Jordan said he will remain a supporter of the program.
"Grove City is a great community, Grove City High School is a great high school and Grove City football is a great program and a great tradition," he said. "I've been very privileged and honored to have been the head football coach for the last five years."