Steve Johnston always wanted to be a head coach and got that chance last season with the Johnstown-Monroe High School boys basketball team. But as the time constraints of coaching became obvious, he decided the leave the program to dedicate more time at home.

Steve Johnston always wanted to be a head coach and got that chance last season with the Johnstown-Monroe High School boys basketball team. But as the time constraints of coaching became obvious, he decided the leave the program to dedicate more time at home.

"Coaching really takes more time than I expected and I need to spend time with my family," said Johnston, who had previously been an assistant at Otterbein for three seasons under longtime coach Dick Reynolds as well as being assistant at Grove City in the mid-1980s. "The administration and the kids have been great, and the people of Johnstown are good people. It's really with a lot of mixed emotions that I had to do this, but with my priorities, I have got to spend time with my family."

The Johnnies finished 8-13 overall after losing to Elgin 72-60 in the first round of the Division III district tournament. They went 6-8 in the MBC to finish sixth behind Utica (13-1), Fredericktown (10-4), Northridge (10-4), Centerburg (7-7) and Loudonville (7-7) and ahead of East Knox (3-11) and Danville (0-14).

Johnston resigned March 28.

"He is a man of conviction and faith and he was committed to helping our kids, but unfortunately he felt like he needed to be with his family at this time," athletics director Mike Carter said. "He wanted to do what he thought was best for the program."

Johnston replaced Joe Bline. In 2006-07, Johnstown finished 8-13, but was 76-17 overall during Bline's tenure. The Johnnies were 24-1 in 2004-05 and won their first MBC title since 1981. In 2005-06, they went 25-1 and lost in a Division III regional final to Archbold on a last-second 3-pointer.

A trip to the Division V playoffs by the football team played a part in the slow start for Johnston's program. Preseason practices were behind schedule, which is never good when there is a change of coaches.

"We started slow at 3-8, but we were 5-5 in the second half of the year," said Johnston, who is a 1977 graduate of Grove City and played on the first Division III final four team coached by Reynolds at Otterbein in 1981. "We even beat Loudonville, which was the only league team to beat Utica. I think that of we had had 10 or 11 more games, we might have gone 7-3 or 8-3. We were building momentum and they will have a lot of good talent coming back."

The Johnnies are expected to return their leading scorer and rebounder from last season, sophomore power forward Riley Cannon with averages of 11.3 points and 7.4 rebounds per game.

Also expected back are junior Jake Hollis (8.3 points per game), junior guard/forward Kurt Sammons and sophomore guards Cody Green and Michael Kessler (7.0 points).

"I think the program is in really good position," Johnston said. "They have a lot of really good players and the outlook is bright."

Carter said the hiring process was under way to find a replacement.

"We want to get someone to replace him as quickly as possible and still follow the guidelines and regulations of the teachers' union. We have had a tremendous amount of response and great applicants, so we're full-speed ahead on finding someone."