WALLA WALLA - Wa-Hi interim football coach Mike Gobel, who took over the Blue Devil reins late last spring after the resignation of newly named head coach Matt Hamlin, has decided not to continue as head coach at Wa-Hi.
Gobel plans to continue as an assistant with the Blue Devils.
"I made the decision on the grounds that I'm an ex-Blue Devil myself, and I bleed blue," Gobel said this morning. "I look at where I am, and being head football coach at Wa-Hi is not in my top three priorities. I believe the head coach at Wa-Hi needs to have that in the top three priorities. There's a great tradition here, and it deserves somebody that can invest the time and energy it takes to get back to the high levels the Blue Devils have had in the past."
Wa-Hi finished last season 2-7 overall and 1-5 in Big Nine play.
Gobel, a 1985 Wa-Hi graduate, has been as assistant football coach in Walla Walla since 1986. He most recently served as offensive coordinator under head coach Marc Yonts, who left following the 2009 season.
Hamlin accepted the Wa-Hi head coach position following Yonts' retirement, but resigned late last spring, citing his family's decision not to make the move from Vancouver, Wash., where he was coach at Skyview High.
"Mike was thrown into a difficult situation at the last minute," Wa-Hi athletic director Don Wilkins said of Gobel's taking over the program. "He did a great job. I really appreciate what he's done for us."
Wilkins said he supported Gobel had he wanted to take over the permanent head coaching position and is happy Gobel intends to remain with the Blue Devil staff.
"He'll still be a valuable part of our program," Wilkins said.
Gobel said he missed a more hands-on approach coaching the players during his stint as head coach.
"The head coaching position is such a big animal, you do a lot of managing," he said. "We have one of the best athletic departments in the league, but I missed coaching the kids and wanted to get back to it."
Gobel expressed his appreciation of his coaching staff and the Blue Devil players while serving as head coach.
"We have a great staff and kids," he said. "Their flexibility and attention to detail made the job pretty easy.
"I think we had a productive year," Gobel said. "We were behind the 8 ball, not only in the spring, but we felt it continue in the summer and fall, with the lateness in the change to a new head coach. One reason I announced my decision early was to give the district time to get a new hire as early as possible.
"We felt like we got things headed in the right direction."