Football: Canal Winchester coach Josh Stratton resigns after four seasons

Dave Purpura
ThisWeek group
Canal Winchester football coach Josh Stratton announced his resignation Nov. 23 after four seasons  with the Indians. He also said he is leaving teaching after this semester to pursue an opportunity in business.

Following his resignation as Canal Winchester football coach, Josh Stratton said none of his 29 wins with the Indians immediately stood out to him as much as a 10-minute period in the locker room this season.

“I just sat in the locker room one day and talked to the guys about nothing in particular, nothing to do with football,” Stratton said. “We all had a good laugh, just connecting outside football. There were a lot of good times like that, with us coaches in the office cracking each other up or paintball with the seniors. That’s what I will miss more than any game.”

Even so, Stratton is just as excited about his next chapter — one that will take him away from coaching and education.

Stratton resigned Nov. 20 to pursue an opportunity in business and informed his players during an online meeting three days later. He announced his resignation to the community in a letter posted on Twitter.

“It was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up,” Stratton said. “I’ll be home more and around my wife (Stacey) and kids (daughters Lyla, 6, and Scarlett, 2). The family needs me at home more and this opportunity gives me that chance.”

Under Stratton, the Indians went 29-13 overall and 13-7 in the OCC-Capital Division with league championships in 2018 and 2019 and Division II playoff appearances in 2017, 2019 and this season.

That ended an 18-year coaching career for the 1998 Westland graduate, who previously made basketball and football stops in Kentucky and Missouri before winning 33 games in four seasons at New Richmond, 20 miles southeast of Cincinnati, with two playoff appearances. Stratton left the Lions after a 10-2 season in 2016 to return to central Ohio.

Canal Winchester had gone 3-7 that year and 6-24 over the previous three seasons.

“He really pushed our program to the next level,” said Indians linebacker Blaine Riley, who was in eighth grade when Stratton was hired in December 2016 and became one of the program’s top defensive players over the past few seasons. “Discipline was the biggest thing. He taught us to hold ourselves accountable.”

After making the playoffs with a 6-4 record in 2017, the Indians went 9-1 the next season but fell short of returning in a competitive Region 7.

The Indians won nine games again in 2019 and qualified but lost in the first round.

Canal Winchester went 5-5 overall and 2-4 in the OCC-Capital this season and earned the program’s first playoff win since 2012 and third overall when it defeated host and 16th-seeded Mount Vernon 45-7 in a Region 7 first-round game Oct. 9. The 17th-seeded Indians fell 42-0 at top-seeded Massillon Perry a week later.

“A lot of people worry about who to hire, but I try to prioritize what to hire,” athletics director Pat Durbin said. “We wanted someone who emphasized discipline, was a communicator — someone who’s not afraid to have an honest conversation with people — and who treats everybody the same. … It hurts my heart not to have him at the helm next year, but Josh is a guy who will succeed in whatever he does.”

Stratton emphasized that he won’t forget about his former players.

“We aren’t leaving the community,” he said. “I told the (players) they lost a coach but gained a fan.”

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave