Shawn Marsh is headed east.
After six years at Central High School, Marsh resigned on Friday to become the head football coach at Eaglecrest High School in Centennial.
"It's exciting for me because it's my profession and I'm a football coach, and this is a new challenge," Marsh said.
Marsh, 50, called Friday a "tough day" after talking to his players and coaching staff at Central about his decision to take the Eaglecrest job.
Eaglecrest is a highly successful Class 5A football program that lost in the second round of the playoffs this season and was the state runner-up in 2017.
The Raptors play in the highly competitive Metro League, which includes perennial powers Cherry Creek and Grandview.
"As far as a career, this is great progression for me as a coach," Marsh said. "It's a big step for me and new challenge, and I'm ready for it."
Coaching in the Cherry Creek School District is also a challenge that appeals to Marsh.
"It's very exciting for me, to be part of that, and have my hand in coaching in that league is going to be an exciting challenge," he said.
Eaglecrest has been a running team in the recent past but Marsh said he plans to implement the spread offense, which he's run since the early 2000s.
Marsh said it is a family move and that means his son, Max, an honorable mention all-state quarterback in 4A last year, will also be at the school.
Shawn Marsh said putting in a new offensive system will be a challenge but he's confident the transition will be fairly seamless.
"It will be a challenge. It does have a lot of wrinkles but it's a system that we put together and it's a teachable system," he said.
He also said having Max's experience will be a benefit.
"Max will compete with the guys who are there, but he knows this system, so that will help," he said.
Eaglecrest had an interim head coach last year and an experienced group of assistants. Marsh hopes he can keep many of those assistant coaches.
"They've had a great coaching staff for a long time, so I'm hoping those people will be interested in sticking around," he said.
Marsh, who graduated from Central in 1987 and from Mesa State College in 1992, got his first head coaching job with Paonia in 1995.
He has a track record of success wherever he's coached on the Western Slope.
Starting at Central in January 2013, Marsh's final record of 24-38 at the school doesn't tell the story of his success.
Marsh took over a struggling program that had not had a winning season since 2004 and went winless in 2012.
In Marsh's first season, the Warriors again went winless at 0-10.
It was Marsh's goal to bring back a football tradition at Central and he knew it was going to take time.
After the two winless seasons, Marsh and Central Athletic Director Randy Powell made the decision to petition the Colorado High School Activities Association to "play down" for two seasons at the Class 3A level.
The Warriors snapped their 21-game losing streak in the second game of the 2014 season but it was still a lean year, with a 2-8 record. But Central was improving.
In 2015, playing in the Class 3A Western Slope League, the Warriors went 5-5.
With a strong senior class that all started with that winless 2013 team as freshmen, the Warriors went 6-4 in the 2016 regular season and made the 4A playoffs, losing in the first round.
The Warriors made the playoffs again this past season and lost to Fruita Monument in the first round.
"Coaching at Central has been some of the greatest years of my life," he said. "It was so great coaching those kids and the program is in good shape and will be in good hands."
Marsh coached at Grand Junction High School for 13 seasons, seven as a head coach, and led the Tigers to a Class 4A state runner-up finish in 2005.
He took over as head coach of Fruita Monument in 2010 and he stayed for one season before taking an assistant coaching position at Colorado Mesa on Joe Ramunno's staff.
Marsh is the third successful head football coach from the four District 51 schools to depart since 2015.
Todd Casebier left Fruita Monument after three seasons following the 2017 season. He took over as head coach at Castle View High School on the Front Range.
Robbie Owens left Grand Junction after eight seasons following the 2015 season to take the head coaching position at Helix High School, a public charter school in La Mesa, California.