After leading his alma mater to a season unlike any in its history, Groveport Madison football coach Bryan Schoonover made the decision to step away.

Schoonover resigned Jan. 6 after seven seasons, a run capped by the Cruisers’ ascension from an 0-10 record in 2017 to a 10-3 mark last year, which included a share of the team’s first league championship in 37 years and a Division I, Region 3 runner-up finish.

“This season was extremely special. What we did has never happened around here,” said Schoonover, a 1998 Groveport graduate who shared state Coach of the Year honors in Division I with Mentor’s Steve Trivisonno. “But the greatest thing in the world I can be called is ‘dad’ and the second-greatest is ‘coach.’ This was a family-based decision. My wife has made sacrifices for me to put in the time to be head coach here. We’re a football family; it’s important to us. But we’ve talked since the end of the season and right now, I can’t give everything I have for our offseason program.”

Schoonover informed his players of his resignation in a morning meeting Jan. 6.

Groveport set a program record for wins, earned its first playoff victory in 12 years and won two games in the same postseason for the first time. The Cruisers went 4-1 in the OCC-Capital Division to share the title with Canal Winchester and New Albany and lost to eventual state champion Pickerington Central 23-7 in the regional final Nov. 22.

Groveport had defeated Central 19-14 on Sept. 20, the Cruisers’ first win over the Tigers since 1990.

“Coaching high school football is a commitment that puts most other things in life second,” athletics director Steve Petros said. “I think he was ready to rearrange his priorities. We certainly understand that.”

Defensive end Jasiyah Robinson, the district Defensive Player of the Year and a first-team all-state honoree, said Schoonover’s decision caught the team by surprise.

“In my four years, he was always caring and supportive for me and all of our players,” Robinson said.

“He always stayed on me about being in the weight room. I went from being a scrawny kid as a freshman (180 pounds, benching 135) to bulking up to someone who could play the line on this level (at 6-foot-4, 225 and benching 290). I owe that to him staying on me.”

Schoonover was an assistant for the Cruisers from 1998-2009 and was co-offensive coordinator at Lancaster from 2010-12.

Canal Winchester coach Josh Stratton credited Schoonover with helping rejuvenate the rivalry between the Cruisers and Indians, which had been dormant from 1965 to 2014. Groveport lost to Canal Winchester in 2017 and 2018 but defeated the Indians 28-0 this season, the first of three consecutive shutout wins for the Cruisers from Weeks 7-9.

“We really enjoyed facing each other and building the rivalry the past three years. We both take it really seriously,” Stratton said. “They really want to beat us, and we really want to beat them. It’s been fun. It’s a bummer, but I’m happy for him to be able to prioritize his family and put them first.”

Schoonover did not rule out a return to coaching.

“I’m not getting ‘congratulations on your retirement’ from anybody,” he said. “It’ll be different not being on the sidelines this fall, but I will still support our guys in everything they do. It’s just time to step back and be with my family right now.”

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave