Ripley leaves the Pirates as the winningest football coach in school history.
After four seasons, Robert Ripley’s time as the head coach of the Matanzas football team has come to an end. Ripley announced his decision to step down as the team's head coach on the afternoon of Monday, Nov. 13.
“It’s just time,” he said. “I knew I wasn’t going to be the coach at Matanzas forever, and it was just time for me to pursue some other ideas, some other interests.”
Ripley, who will continue to serve as the school's dean of discipline until another job opportunity is presented, said he has aspirations of being a principal or an assistant principal. In addition, Ripley also expressed interest in eventually becoming an athletics director.
Ripley said he began discussing his desire to pursue another job with his wife and mentors around mid-season. The complications Hurricane Irma brought to the football schedule also added to his frustration.
“I couldn’t control practice and the elements and those kinds of things were just out of my hands,” he said. “That’s one of the things I have my own angst with. I want things to be done a certain way. I believe practice should be run a certain way. As the generations change, it’s getting harder to do those things consistently.”
The reason that sticks out the most, however: Ripley’s desire to spend more time with his three sons.
During spring, when he was training football players in the weight room, one of his sons was suiting up for the Pirates’ junior varsity baseball team.
“They deserve a little bit more of me, and I should probably be a better father and be around more,” he said. “That was just something I wasn’t handling really well.”
Ripley informed the team of his departure after school Monday.
“It was a quiet room,” he said. “It was kind of one those things that there was some genuine shock and some others that kind of put the pieces of the puzzle together on their own.”
Ripley will go down in the record books at Matanzas, a school that regularly fielded lackluster football teams prior to his arrival. Ripley leaves with three-straight winning seasons, back-to-back playoff appearances and consecutive wins against crosstown rival Flagler Palm Coast — all program firsts. In addition, with a 23-17 overall record, Ripley will go down as the Pirates' winningest football coach in school history.
“Someone asked me earlier what the next steps were and how you replace a Robert Ripley,” Matanzas AD Zach Rigney said. “I don’t think you do. I’m grateful to have spent that time with him and pick his brain on what works in the county, what doesn’t work, what works for our kids. He’s been a big help for me in kind of getting me established in this great county, and I’m thankful.”
Rigney said the search for the Pirates’ next head coach will start as soon as possible. The school will search internally as well as outside the program.
“It’s going to be a tough job moving forward for us to find the right candidate,” he said. “We’re looking for someone that’s really going to be good for our kids not only on the football field, but also in the classroom, out in the community and representing Matanzas High School.”