In his four seasons as Westland High School football coach, Kyle Goebbel's main goal was to change the culture on and off the field.
Although he said the program achieved that goal, Goebbel resigned Nov. 8, a day after informing the team.
"It's a big loss for us," athletics director Mike George said. "Coach Goebbel is an individual that gave 100 percent each and every day to every single kid and to the program, not just athletically, but academically and within the school and community. He means more than I can express. He's first-class on the field and off the field."
The Cougars went 8-32 overall under Goebbel, but had key achievements. They won seven games over Goebbel's first two seasons after winning five games during the previous six seasons.
"I'm very proud of what we were able to accomplish in my four years at Westland," Goebbel said. "In my first two years we won more games than the previous (six seasons), ended a six-(season) OCC winless streak, and in 2015 we scored the third-most points (235) for a season in Westland history."
Westland snapped a 42-game losing streak in the OCC with a 40-7 win over Thomas Worthington on Sept. 26, 2014.
Goebbel said he will miss the close bond he developed with his players.
"More importantly than statistics are the relationships that were developed with the players that will last a lifetime," he said. "My goal was to change the culture of Westland football, help players use football to become better young men and move the program away from the years of being uncompetitive. I believe I achieved that goal."
This season, the Cougars finished 1-9 overall and 0-5 in the OCC-Central Division, placing sixth behind Dublin Coffman (5-0), Hilliard Davidson (4-1), Central Crossing (2-3), Marysville (2-3) and Upper Arlington (2-3).
Ousmane Dabo (RB/DB) led a nine-player senior class and set a positive example for the Cougars' underclassmen.
"We went out there and worked hard every game," Dabo said. "We told (the underclassmen) not to give up no matter what the score is."
Dabo led Westland in tackles with 128 and was named a co-Player of the Year in the OCC-Central and second-team all-district.
"Ousmane is a great person and represents everything that is good with high school football," Goebbel said. "He earned the most individual recognition as a player in my four years here and he deserves every bit of it."
The Cougars defeated Delaware 19-14 on Sept. 8 as Goebbel won against his alma mater. He graduated from Delaware in 1998.
Westland lost to school-district rivals Franklin Heights 41-28 on Sept. 15 and Central Crossing 48-21 on Oct. 13.
The Cougars' offense took a major hit in Week 4 when junior quarterback DeShawn Evans suffered a broken right ankle on the team's second offensive play from scrimmage against Franklin Heights. Evans sustained three broken bones and a torn ligament and underwent surgery Sept. 19.
In his second season as a starter, Evans completed 29 of 68 passes for 292 yards with four touchdowns and three interceptions.
"I loved having (Goebbel) as a coach," Evans said. "I always felt like I had somebody on my side on the field and in the classroom. We didn't always win the games we should have, but I feel like he helped the kids on the football team and everybody at Westland with unity and support, and we loved him and the staff and it's sad they are going."
Sophomore Tyquwone Workman replaced Evans and completed 66 of 142 passes for 1,143 yards with five touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
Junior Daunte Campbell led in receiving with 26 catches for 377 yards and four touchdowns, while junior Anthony Widen had 21 receptions for 346 yards and two touchdowns and was second-team all-league.
Senior Matt Bailey led in rushing with 51 carries for 259 yards and three touchdowns before leaving the team midway through the season.
Sophomore Peterson Iresne had 41 carries for 167 yards and one score.
Sophomore linebacker Geno Sekura was second on the team with 90 tackles and was honorable mention all-league.
Senior Trent Bott (OL/DL) was second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district, and classmate Soriba Kaba (RB/DL) was special mention all-league.
Other key players eligible to return include juniors Jonathan Curry (WR/DB), Malique Douglas (WR/DB), Dominick Hughes (OL/DL) and Abraham Ornelas (OL/DL) and sophomore Kyle Bowles (DB).
George said the search for Goebbel's replacement would begin immediately.
"I'm going to meet with the principal and assistant principal and we're going to figure out a game plan and try to move forward and get someone in here to continue what Kyle has been doing," George said. "It was a tough season this year, (going 1-9), but to (Goebbel's) credit he never gave up. He still gave it all he had."