Chris Faircloth has always enjoyed the relationships with the children he has coached at Las Vegas High.
But ultimately only one relationship with a child mattered to Faircloth, and it was the one he was missing while coaching football.
Faircloth resigned as Las Vegas’ football coach Tuesday to spend more time with his 9-year-old son, Grant.
“I don’t think I’ve probably been as good a father or spent as much time as I needed to with my kid,” Faircloth said. “I needed to do that before the window closes. That was the deciding factor.”
Faircloth posted a 78-17 record in seven seasons as coach at Las Vegas, leading the Wildcats to Class 4A state titles in 2005 and 2006. The school also won five Sunrise Region titles in Faircloth’s seven seasons.
Las Vegas was 11-2 last season, advancing to the Sunrise Region title game.
Faircloth has been a fixture on the Las Vegas sideline for nearly 20 years. Before becoming head coach, he spent 12 years as an assistant with the Wildcats.
He said he will miss spending time with the players.
“It’s just the interaction with the kids; it’s probably the best part of the whole experience,” Faircloth said. “Coaches have a huge influence on who kids end up being, what their futures may end up being. That’s a big deal. A lot of times you’re almost like their parents to them, and that’s all coaches. It’s meaningful. That part of it, I’m definitely going to miss.”
The school moved quickly to appoint a new coach, hiring longtime assistant James Thurman.
Thurman, who has been an assistant for 14 years, served as the team’s defensive line coach and special teams coordinator last season.
He said he’s excited and nervous about the opportunity to take charge of one of the area’s premier programs.
“It’s always been a goal to be a head coach, but I wasn’t in a hurry,” Thurman said. “I would have worked for Faircloth for 15 more years if he would have let me. But when you get this opportunity, you can’t pass it up. Hopefully we don’t mess it up.”
Faircloth said he informed the players of his decision Wednesday. He said the fact that the rest of the coaching staff will remain in place softened the sting of his departure.
“The idea that the rest of the coaches are going to be there is comforting to them that life’s not going to drastically change and they know how they’re going to be treated and everything else,” Faircloth said.
While some of the players might be disappointed that Faircloth resigned, one young man, Faircloth’s son, is excited.
“During the season he’s one of those kids you get to see on Friday nights and that’s it,” said Faircloth, who will remain at Las Vegas as a business teacher. “I think he’s pretty fired up. It’s a commitment I needed to make.”
Las Vegas isn’t the only school to recently change football coaches. Desert Oasis hired Chris Littmann, the school’s offensive line coach the past two seasons, to replace Faron Seibel, who was 15-6 in two years as coach.
Valley promoted assistant Marcus Sherman to replace John Elwell, who was 10-22 in three seasons. Sunrise Mountain hired Ky Edwards to take over for Jason Basso, who posted a 2-17 record in two seasons.
Shadow Ridge’s Gabe Gledhill resigned Monday after posting a 12-28 record in four seasons. And the search for a replacement for Matt Gerber at Green Valley is ongoing. Gerber was 24-30 in five years.