Chris Samuels,
FILE: Timpview coach Cary Whittingham speaks to his team after losing the 4A high school football championships against East at Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Friday, Nov. 20, 2015.
It’s not weirdly out of the blue. And I’m not just walking away. What I thought was, ‘I’ve done it long enough.’ There is a lot to coaching high school football, and it’s a drain on you. It burns your candle at both ends. —Cary Whittingham

PROVO — Cary Whittingham hopes resigning as Timpview’s head coach will allow him to hold onto the aspects of coaching he loves most — working with players.

The three-time state champion head coach shocked many with his decision to resign as Timpview’s head football coach on Friday, after just six years at the helm, but he said it’s something he’s been considering for a while.

“It’s not weirdly out of the blue,” said Whittingham, who owns the state’s fifth-longest win streak, a 27-game stretch from the 2013 to 2015 seasons. “And I’m not just walking away. … What I thought was, ‘I’ve done it long enough.’ There is a lot to coaching high school football, and it’s a drain on you. It burns your candle at both ends. There is a lot the high school coach has to do that there is no help for, and you don’t have the resources and structure that college coaches have.”

The 54-year-old said he’s not taking — or even looking for — a college coaching job, and he’s actually hoping whoever Timpview hires to take over the program will at least offer him an interview.

“I’d kind of seen this model with Chad Van Orden,” he said, referring to another former T-bird head coach who became an assistant to Whittingham’s predecessor, Louis Wong. “I’ve been at Timpview for a lot of years, and I’m still going to be teaching for a while, so the plan is to continue on and see if the guy they find has a space for me to help. … I’m close with Chad, and he said it was good when he was done, but he enjoyed staying at the school and being part of the football program.”

Whittingham said the timing of his resignation was only significant in that he hopes the administration will hire a new coach quickly so the program retains continuity. He said the pressures of head coaching at any level are brutal, but the number of roles high school coaches are asked to play is exhausting.

“You’re the equipment manager, fundraiser, financial secretary, cleanup crew at the end of everything,” he said. “And if you’re not, you’re responsible for figuring out who is going to do it, and also that they get it done.”

But the one thing that he never tired of was caring for the boys on his team.

That was, in fact, what made the decision so difficult and so emotional.

“It’s obviously a labor of love,” he said. “And I had a good time.”

When asked his favorite memories from his storied and successful 13-year career with the T-birds, he doesn’t hesitate.

“The kids, for sure,” he said. “That’s it. I talked with the kids at lunch (Friday), and that’s the tough part of walking away.”

He said the head coach not only gets to know every player in his program, he has the most influence with them and impact on their lives. And the only thing that might eclipse Whittingham’s on-field success (63-14) is what he’s done for the youth and community that supported his program.

“We are extremely grateful for the years of service Cary has provided the school and football program,” Timpview principal Fidel Montero said after Friday’s announcement. “He’s one of the most successful coaches in the state and beyond that, we’re really grateful for the relationships he’s built with young men, parents and the Timpview community. So we’re going to miss him.”

Whittingham, who was an assistant for seven years before serving as head coach for six years, will continue to teach P.E. and weightlifting at Timpview, and he’s optimistic he’ll be helping on a sideline somewhere next fall, hopefully with the T-birds.

“I would think I would be able to be evaluated as a defensive coordinator or (for) coaching linebackers,” he said. “We’ll have to see who comes in and how it goes.”