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High school football: Bill Fishleigh leaving Amherst after three years, says program in good shape despite record

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    Bill Fishleigh

    CT

Add Amherst to what seems to be an ever-growing list of Lorain County high schools looking for football coaches.

Bill Fishleigh has resigned as Comets coach to take a central office position at another school district, the school said in a news release. Fishleigh, who did not want to say where he was going at this time, was also an assistant principal with Amherst and said the new opportunity will allow him to spend more time with his family.

Fishleigh is the fifth area coach who will not be returning to his team next season, joining Elyria’s Kevin Fell, Keystone’s Rob Clarico, Avon Lake’s Dave Dlugosz and Vermilion’s Rob Duray.

The Comets were 5-25 overall and 4-18 in the Southwestern Conference in three seasons under Fishleigh. However, he and athletic director Casey Wolf are confident Amherst is turning the corner after going 3-7 with two losses by less than a touchdown this season.

“One of my mentors always said you want to leave the program better than when you got it and I think we’ve done that,” Fishleigh said. “It’s definitely heading in the right direction. We’ve impacted a lot of areas, the youth program, junior high and varsity. It’s definitely a good time for Amherst.

Whoever gets this job is going to be inheriting a good football team.”

Wolf said the search for Fishleigh’s replacement has begun. The job has been posted internally and will be posted externally on Tuesday. From there, Amherst will zero in on its top choice.

He had high praise for Fishleigh, adding that the coach’s decision came as a surprise.

“What he’s done to establish a solid foundation for this program is something that was needed,” Wolf said. “He’s really shown our kids that there’s a lot of work that goes into being successful. And while it hasn’t shown in wins on the field, the effort that he’s shown our kids need to give in and out of season is going to help us going forward for many years to come.”

Fishleigh came to Amherst after assisting Avon coach Mike Elder for 10 of 11 seasons, dating back to Elder’s time with Perry High School in 2003. The other season he served as a student assistant with Case Western Reserve.

Fishleigh inherited a 1-9 team in 2014 and went 2-8 his inaugural year before going 0-10 the next season.

Amherst snapped a 14-game losing streak with a 54-13 win over Berea-Midpark in Week 4 this past season and won three of its last even under Fishleigh. All four of the losses came against playoff teams that won at least eight games, including a three-point loss to eventual Division II, Region 6 runner up Olmsted Falls.

Wolf said while the Comets will say goodbye to a number of strong seniors, they return what was a strong sophomore class.

“The cupboard’s not bare,” Fishleigh said. “It was definitely a tough decision, but I think it’s for the best. I think the next person is going to have success.”

Contact Chris Sweeney at 329-7135 or ctsports@chroniclet.com. Follow him @CSweeneyCT on Twitter.



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