Updated: Tuesday, December 20, 2016
TUSCARAWAS TWP. Nate Held stepped down Tuesday as Tuslaw's head football coach, ending the most successful coaching tenure in the program's history after 11 years.
"It's been something that I've been giving a lot of thought to since the season ended," Held said. "It's been 11 years. We've seen some great things in that time. We've been involved in getting a lot of things accomplished at Tuslaw. ... We really were able to get involved in the community and become a part of it as a family."
Held's 60-53 record in those 11 years is by far the best mark of any Mustang coach. The previous record for most head-coaching wins was 38 by Ray Kennedy and Held's predecessor, Dave Kuhlins.
There's no question the bar was set high for the Mustangs after Held's first three seasons at the helm. Tuslaw won its first-ever PAC-7 championship in his first season of 2006, qualifying for the playoffs and finishing 9-2.
After a 7-3 mark in his second season, the Mustangs once again claimed the PAC-7 title in 2008, going 10-2 and winning a home playoff game.
"We were in the playoffs our first season, and we definitely got off to a hot start," Held said. "We won two PAC championships and went to the playoffs twice. We hadn't beaten Manchester in 18 years, and we won our first three times against them and four times in our 11 years here. We set a high standard."
The problem with setting a high standard is that it becomes the expectation. Tuslaw never won more than six games over the final eight seasons of Held's tenure, and only twice went 6-4 in that span, in 2012 and 2014.
The Mustangs went 5-5 in 2009 and 2011. They went 3-7 this past season, although six of those losses were by a touchdown or less.
"We were 6-4 a couple years ago and we were ninth in the region," Held said. "Last year, we averaged almost 23 points a game and gave up just over 19 points a game. We were in the games, we just had a break here or there go against us and we didn't win some of those games."
Held said he didn't know what the future exactly held for him. He said he spent the last couple months spending so much time on the decision that he hadn't had time to think about the next step for him.
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