By Joseph Staszewski
Christ the King varsity football Coach Chris Higgins and his entire staff were asked to resign by the school’s board of directors last week, sources told the New York Post.
The third-year head man confirmed he was told of this request in a meeting Nov. 16 with school athletic directors Bob Mackey and Joe Arbitello.
“I don’t want to step down,” Higgins said. “If they are asking for a resignation letter, I am not going to give them one. If they are going to fire me, that’s fine. I am not resigning.”
Higgins said he saw the possibility of this coming after the Royals finished their second 1-8 season in his tenure.
Last season, however, was a banner year for the program, led by quarterback Terrel Hunt, now at Syracuse. CK had one of its most successful seasons in recent years, finishing 5-4 after starting its CHSFL ‘AA-A’ campaign 5-0. Higgins believes you need to throw out his first season since he was only named Kevin Kelly’s successor in July of that year. He noted the school’s freshman team went 6-2 this year, one of its best seasons at that level in recent years.
“I thought the program was moving in the right direction,” Higgins said. “Obviously it was not fast enough or not good enough for the school. [Building from the lower levels] was the plan I put in place. There was nothing you could do with the upper classmen. You work with what you’ve got. It should be based on what you bring in the building.”
Sources told the New York Post the decision was not made based on wins and losses. The school was concerned more with operational and behind-the-scenes failures and the school is still 100 percent committed to football and not by any means dropping the program.
“I felt me and my staff did what we could,” Higgins, who also spent five years as an assistant varsity football coach at CK, said. “We tried our hardest. We showed up every day. It just felt like from the get-go people had an expectation of this team of winning and we didn’t win right away and they already wanted my head.”
This year’s squad was a talented, but inexperienced one, featuring tight end Kalief Joyner, who was getting a bevy of Division I interest, 6-foot-6 wide receiver Jordan Fuchs, two-way senior lineman Justin Reid and star junior James Coleman. The team’s performance improved when Coleman was moved from running back to replace Matt Gluick under center.
Higgins pointed to a 37-34 loss to St. John the Baptist and a 20-18 defeat against second-place Cardinal Hayes as games that could have turned the season around and signs they weren’t as far away as people thought. Their lone win came against 1-8 Cardinal Spellman.
“There are a few games we lost by very little margin,” he said. “We turn around Baptist, we turn around Hayes that’s three wins right there. Are we having this conversation now? Probably not.”
If he and Christ the King eventually split ways, Higgins believes he will get a coaching job elsewhere in the CHSFL and noted he has enjoyed his time at the school. He just doesn’t plan on being the one ending his tenure there.
“At the end of the day I lost,” Higgins said. “If they want to go in a different direction, that’s their right and I am completely fine with that, but at the end of the day they asked for a letter of resignation, but I don’t want to quit. I’m not a quitter. If they want to fire me, that’s fine.”