Ray steps down as ERHS head football coach


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Kenny Ray is stepping down as head coach of Eagle River High’s football program after three seasons.

Ray, 61, said the decision to resign from his coaching post is something he’s mulled over while simultaneously considering retiring from his position as financial data control clerk at ERHS.

“I’m getting ready to retire,” Ray said. “I’ve got a life-changing decision to make.”

Ray said he hasn’t decided whether or not this will be his final year as an ERHS employee.

Ray said serving as football coach is a 24/7, 365-day-a-year job.

“It’s a long year, especially when you don’t win,” Ray said.

Under Ray, the Wolves went 5-19. The team’s best showing was 3-5 in Ray’s first year as head coach. The past two seasons, Eagle River went 1-7. The Wolves’ lone win this year came after Chugiak was forced to forfeit three of its wins, one of them over Eagle River.

Eagle River High’s small enrollment compared to the other Cook Inlet Conference schools makes it difficult to compete, Ray said.

“Football is a game of attrition and numbers,” he said.

But Eagle River doesn’t lack determination, Ray said.

“The kids are great kids,” he said. “They play their hearts out.”

Ray started his Alaska coaching career with Chugiak in 1992. He coached the junior varsity and C teams before spending his final year with the varsity in 2000.

Ray retired from the United States Air Force in 1991 after 23 years of service.

Despite Eagle River’s record, Ray said there were plenty of positive memories to look back on over the past three seasons.

Eagle River notched its first CIC win against East Anchorage in 2009. The 43-40 victory was the Wolves’ first against a large-schools opponent.

Eagle River also played its first home game last year. The nonconference win over Lathrop was Eagle River’s lone victory of the 2010 season.

Ray was also part of the first homecoming game held at Eagle River when the Wolves hosted East on Sept. 17.

“Those are accomplishments I’m really proud of,” Ray said.

Eagle River would have never hosted home games without support from former principal Natalie Burnett and current principal Marty Lang, Ray said.

Ray said he doesn’t know what his role will be in selecting his replacement, but that he’ll likely be involved in the process. Ray said he’s in favor of hiring a coach who works at ERHS.

“It’s very important to be in the building,” he said. “I hope they get someone that will be around for a while.”

Ray said his time at the helm of Eagle River football has been enjoyable.

“I’ve had a lot of fun with the kids,” he said. “I love them to death. The hardest thing about walking away from it is walking away from the kids.”

 

Contact Mike Nesper at 694-2727 or mike.nesper@alaskastar.com

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