Football: Shorecrest at Stanwood, 10.5.18

Stanwood High football coach Eric Keizer stepped down May 21.

Stanwood High School football coach Eric Keizer stepped down May 21.

Keizer had coached the Spartans since he was promoted from offensive coordinator early in the 2015 season following the resignation of coach Dave Telford.

“It was time for me to step down and let the next group of coaches come in and pick up where I left it and take the program to the next level,” Keizer said. “I was planning on coming back, but after doing a little self reflection, it was time to step away and let the next group get after it.”

The school plans to post the coaching opening soon with the hope of hiring someone by the end of the school year, Stanwood High Athletic Director Tom Wilfong said. The new coach will hire a staff and plan summer practices, he said. 

During Keizer’s tenure, the program embraced a culture change, helping to grow a more character-based team that would provide a blueprint for leadership and develop competitors.

“We wanted to create a culture within the program of accountability, of stability,” Keizer said. “We wanted to make sure that each kid was a great person, not just a football player — great in the classroom, at home, in the community.

“We were there for kids who might be struggling in the classroom or at home," he said. "We created an avenue for the players to become good men, fathers, husbands, sons and all-around good people through football.”

Wilfong said he appreciates Keizer’s efforts.

“He took over a program in tough shape. He’s done a great job trying to change that culture and work with these kids,” Wilfong said. “He and his staff have dedicated a lot of time for these kids. During COVID, they were still doing meetings with kids online in Google Meets, maintaining contact. I appreciate all their efforts.”

Keizer led the program to an 18-32 record since taking over in 2015, including a playoff appearance in 2017 — the first for Stanwood football since 2009. 

“Prior to that 2017 season, I was asked about our three nonleague games, and I asked for the three toughest opponents we could get,” Keizer said. “I wanted the players to experience what it's like to play against these top teams —  because that’s ultimately what we want our program to be — and I believe it helped us that year and into the following season.”

Keizer, who started at Stanwood High in 2009 as a freshman coach before becoming a running backs coach and then the offensive coordinator, said he’s grateful for the opportunity to lead the team. Keizer said he plans to take a year off from coaching.

“I want to thank the community, the players, the school, and everybody for the opportunity to go out there and coach and be a part of the players’ lives,” he said. “I know we left the program better than we found it, and I want the next group to do the same. We all want to see it be a thriving program.”

Contact reporter Evan Caldwell at ecaldwell@scnews.com and follow him on Twitter @Evan_SCN for updates throughout the week and on Instagram @evancaldwell.scn for more photos.

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