Rob D'Amato completed perhaps the toughest task of a coach's resignation Monday, breaking the news to his players.
Whale Branch High School's first football coach is leaving after two seasons to pursue an assistant coaching opportunity in the Charleston area. He declined Monday to reveal the school, pending a contract being finalized.
D'Amato told his players they had been part of building something, that his research showed the average records of some of the state's other first-year programs was 5-15 over the first two seasons. The Warriors were 12-10 under D'Amato, with two playoff berths.
"The thing I love about it the most is we want more," D'Amato said. "My point was, we've got a great foundation and that's a tribute to our administration at the school and our leadership and also to our seniors."
The Presbyterian College graduate and new father said family considerations won out, that his wife accepted a job in Charleston and that the move would allow the couple's 7-month-old son to be closer to extended family.
D'Amato resigned his football job and will continue teaching through the end of the school year.
Under D'Amato, Whale Branch won its first four games of 2011 and started 3-0 the first season. After struggling during the Region 5-A schedule during the inaugural season, D'Amato said his players needed to get stronger and tougher during the offseason,.
And in Year 2, the Warriors improved. They finished with a winning record in region play and earned a home playoff game.
D'Amato helped coach wrestling at Dorman High School while earning a biology degree at Presbyterian and later earned his masters degree at the University of South Carolina. He helped coach football at Columbia's Brookland-Cayce High School while earning his advanced degree before coaching linebackers for four years at Goose Creek.
D'Amato said he had not talked to Warriors administrators about his possible replacement. An attempt Monday to reach athletics director Carlos Cave was unsuccessful.
"I'm happy for the situation, because I think its a position situation with a great foundation and strong leadership from the administration. I'm sure whoever the guy is, he's going to be coming into a great situation and will do a great job."
Whale Branch football coach Rob D'Amato delivered the following statement to the Island Packet/Beaufort Gazette:
It's very hard to walk away from such a great situation at Whale Branch. I am grateful to the Beaufort County administration for their support and fortunate to have worked for such strong leadership under Mrs. (Priscilla) Drake, Mr. (Chad) Cox and Coach (Carlos) Cave. It has been a pleasure to have been a part of the Whale Branch community and an honor to have served as head football coach. I will miss most the outstanding young men that have dedicated themselves and thank them for laying the strong foundation for this football program. I will remain their biggest fan moving forward.