WOODS CROSS — Walking away from the head coaching job at his alma mater after three years wasn't an easy decision for Justin Spencer, but it's one that professionally he believes he needed to make.

Spencer, who posted an 18-15 record at West the past three years, was hired as Woods Cross' new football coach on Friday. He replaces interim coach Nick Longshore.

"When I went to West High, I had no intention of ever leaving. Some things didn't work out inside the building as far as my teaching assignment, and I decided this would be the last year I coached there," said Spencer.

Spencer will serve as a physical education teacher at Woods Cross, but he isn't quite sure if he'll begin his new job at the semester break in January or next school year. Spencer lives in Woods Cross and his boys play youth football and baseball for Woods Cross.

He's taking over a program that finished with a 4-6 record this past year, ultimately losing to Timpview 31-14 in the first round of the playoffs.

"I know it will be a challenge. The No. 1 challenge is the region that Woods Cross is aligned in, you have East, Highland and Bountiful who are perennial contenders. That makes life a little bit difficult, but what has to happen is we all have to rise to the challenge," said Spencer.

Spencer said he's always prided himself on being a teacher first, which from a professional standpoint made it easier to leave his circumstances at West. Leaving his coaching duties was anything but easy though.

"I want those boys at West to know I didn't leave West High because of football. West is a tough place to coach, but it's a great place to coach. The environment is unlike any other. Boys did everything I wanted and it was a wonderful experience for me," said Spencer. "Those boys are dear to me, it's very difficult to leave your alma mater."

email: [email protected]