Palisade coach released from his football contract
John Arledge would not change a thing about his coaching style, he said Thursday evening about being released from his football coaching contract by Palisade High School.
Arledge, 49, guided the Bulldogs to the state playoffs in each of his eight seasons as head coach.
“I’m disappointed with some of the loyalty and character of some of the people involved,” Arledge said. “I don’t think it was right how it happened, but if I had to do it all over again, I’d do everything the same, whether it worked or not, good or bad, it was in the best interest of everybody. Everyone who knows me knows that.
“Maybe I was too competitive, maybe I was hard on kids, maybe I pushed them. But I’d do it again. If I coach again, I’ll do it again.”
The high school addressed the decision in a news release Thursday, saying, “A personnel decision of this magnitude affects many people and is never taken lightly; however, we felt that a change was needed at this time.”
Arledge will continue to teach Advanced Placement Government and Advanced Placement History of the Americas at Palisade.
Palisade Athletic Director Mike Krueger said in the news release: “It is not easy to part ways with a person who has done so much for our kids, and for me personally such a good friend. Our school and the community of Palisade owe Coach Arledge a substantial debt of gratitude for the many contributions he has made to Palisade High School football over the past 12 years as both an assistant and head football coach.”
District 51 Athletic Director Paul Cain said the posting for the Palisade football head coaching position will be on the District 51 website.
“They just felt it was time for a change,” Cain said. “And it was a hard decision.”
Early speculation about Arledge’s replacement centered on former Palisade coach Joe Ramunno, who was one of Arledge’s assistants last season. Ramunno, who coached the Bulldogs to four consecutive state championships from 1994–97, going 50-3 during that span, spent the previous 14 seasons as the Colorado Mesa University football coach, resigning in November 2011.
Of Arledge’s coaching legacy, Cain added, “He had a passion for the game, for the program and for his athletes. He got a lot out of his players.”
Some players and coaches closely tied to Arledge said he was a bit of an enigma: intense on the field, mellow off.
Before he led the Bulldogs to a record of 69-22 during his tenure, Arledge was defensive coordinator for four years at Palisade under head coach Todd Casebier, now the head football coach at Montrose High School.
Casebier, who had been speaking with Arledge during the past week, said Arledge was shocked when he found out the news.
“Why now?” Casebier said of Arledge losing his position. “Why are they doing this January 31? Why don’t you do it in December or November? What the heck happened where you kept this guy this whole time and all of a sudden it just happens now?”
Casebier said Arledge last week was talking about the future of the program, including details about summer camps.
Kyle Britton, a 2005 Palisade graduate who was a running back and cornerback when Arledge was defensive coordinator, also was shocked by the news.
“I loved playing for the guy,” said Britton, who received a full-ride scholarship to play football at Mesa State College. “He did things that weren’t traditional. ... But I wouldn’t have wanted to play for anybody else. He was extreme in some aspects. But it worked.”
Britton said some players had been offended by Arledge’s intensity.
“I also know he cared about me, and he wanted to make me the best football player I could be,” Britton said.
Kyle Britton’s father, Dave Britton, said he has a picture at home of Kyle Britton during his Palisade days jogging off a football field. Arledge was shaking Britton’s hand. It is one of Kyle Britton’s favorite pictures, Dave Britton said.
“Because you just didn’t get that kind of approval from (Arledge) on the field,” Dave Britton said. “All you got was, ‘Why didn’t you do this, too?’ He was just very gruff the way he went about it. But once you understood why he’s yelling and screaming out there — he treated every one of those boys like his own.”
And then, Dave Britton said, the players would work hard to get Arledge’s approval.
In terms of wins, it worked. Arledge did not have a losing season. Arledge’s teams made the state semifinals twice and the quarterfinals once.
“I know John’s misunderstood by people who have watched his program from a distance,” Casebier said. “They don’t know him, and I can guarantee if you talk to his kids he’s coached over the years, you’ll find a ton of love and respect those kids have for him.”
In 2007, Palisade fell just short of a championship game appearance, losing to Falcon, 7-6, in the semifinals.
“It wasn’t about wins and losses,” Casebier said.
Cain said the decision to part ways with Arledge was made by a group of administrators, and it was a tough decision.
“Life will go on,” Arledge said. “I have things to do. Five kids. A wonderful wife. And I’ll always be a Palisade fan.”