Chris Eckert, the 2016 Pequot Sassacus Coach of the Year who guided Cromwell/Portland to the Class S semifinals this season, announced his resignation as the team’s head coach Wednesday, according to a note posted on the team’s Twitter account, which is run by Eckert.
In a note, Eckert cited his desire to pursue an administrative role within a school district.
“Such positions become available toward the later part of the school calendar,” he wrote. “While that may not happen right away, if something were to happen, I don’t feel comfortable departing this program in May / June leaving the kids and this program in a disadvantaged position.”
Panther Family please read: Sincerely Coach Eckert pic.twitter.com/cLu8gM5SyS
— Cromwell/Portland FB (@CoachEckert) December 14, 2016
Eckert, a Southern Connecticut State graduate, began his head coaching career at Wilby. He took over at Cromwell in 2011 and led the program for six seasons, the last two as a co-op with nearby Portland across the Connecticut river.
Eckert’s teams were a combined 46-21 and qualified for the state playoffs twice, in 2011 and 2016.
Cromwell reached the Class S championship game in his first season, but lost to Holy Cross 34-27. They didn’t return until this past season.
Led by all-staters Kristian Sapp and Anthony Puntiel, Cromwell/Portland went 10-2 this season. It won the Pequot League with a 9-0 record and ultimately reached the Class S semifinals with an upset of defending champion Bloomfield. Cromwell/Portland bowed out to eventual champion Ansonia in the semifinals.
For his efforts, Eckert was named the Pequot Sassacus Coach of the Year. Sapp was the Pequot Sassacus Player of the Year.
The previous year, Eckert’s team came under scrutiny when a player was charged with hazing. Eckert accepted responsibility for the incident and served a one-game suspension handed out by the school district.
Team captains, however, publicly absolved their coach of responsibility.“He’s a very good man, coach and teacher,” then-captain Ethan Roy said. “We idolize him and all love him. He always wants the best for us.”
Cromwell/Portland regrouped and finished the season 8-2, just out of reach of a playoff berth.
“I want to thank you for the unwavering support you have given me over my time here as football coach,” Eckert wrote in his statement. “I wish nothing but continued success for the kids and this program. I have so many fond memories leading these young men week in and week out that I will hold on to dearly.”