CASA GRANDE — Coming off another disappointing season, Vista Grande football coach Chris Semore has resigned his position.
Semore had an end of semester meeting with athletic director Bobby Pierce on Wednesday, and at the end of the meeting the two came to a mutual agreement for Semore to resign.
Semore, also a certified physical education teacher, will remain in that role with the school at least until the end of the school year, when his contract will be up for renewal.
“It was a mutual idea where we were talking it out ... we both came to a mutual conclusion that he’s going to step away,” Pierce said in a phone interview with PinalCentral.
Semore was hired as the head football coach at Vista Grande after the 2017 season. He took over a program that went 0-10 in 2017.
The Spartans were two games better in his first year, going 2-8 in 2018. But Vista Grande stumbled back to 0-10 the following season.
The COVID-19 pandemic affected everyone’s 2020 season. But it was particularly tough on Vista Grande, as Semore said attrition damaged the teams’ depth.
After winning their first game of the season 28-21 over Phoenix Shadow Mountain, the Spartans lost six in a row to finish at 1-6. They were No. 30 in the 4A power rankings out of 33 qualified teams.
Pierce said that while he couldn’t ignore the performance on the field — three wins in three years — it wasn’t the only thing he considered during his meeting with Semore.
“The three wins, it is what it is; it’s hard to look past that,” he said.
Pierce admitted the program is in a difficult spot. Not only is it not winning games, but the other high school in town, Casa Grande Union, is enjoying tremendous success in football. The Cougars were the No. 1 seed in the 4A playoffs and advanced to the 4A semifinals before losing to Glendale Cactus.
Students within the district who may have otherwise played football at Vista Grande are choosing to play at CG Union.
“It’s a tough job. It’s going to be an uphill climb,” Pierce said.
But Pierce is convinced the program can turn things around and play winning football. He has a good relationship with Casa Grande athletic director Randy Robbins, who has been generous with giving the younger Pierce advice on how to make the program more competitive.
Just a day removed from the decision, Semore was a bit raw emotionally.
“Still trying to process the whole thing and figure out what to do next,” he told PinalCentral on Thursday. “It’s never an easy thing to do to leave a place,” whether it’s on your terms or not, he said.
Despite the difficulty of the situation, Semore volunteered to help Pierce find the next football coach at Vista Grande. While it may seem unusual for Semore to be willing to help find his replacement, he never hesitated in that decision because he wants to do right by the kids and the program.
“It’s not about me,” Semore said. “It’s about our kids ... It’s about finding the best person for them and what they need.”
As for Vista Grande’s struggles on the field in 2020, Semore said COVID-19 played an outsized role in making everything more difficult, especially due to his roster size diminishing throughout the season.
But he said the players who were on the field had to perform better. The Spartans were outscored 290-115 in their seven games.
“We just couldn’t finish games,” he said. “We made too many mistakes, and those sorts of things ... I could sit here and make excuses, but we just didn’t get the job done.”
Even though the wins didn’t come, Semore said he was proud to coach his team through a turbulent season.
“Our kids accomplished something not many schools did,” he said, adding that was not missing any games due to COVID-19 outbreaks within his team and continuing to fight each week.
“For us to complete the season and compete the way we did, I couldn’t be prouder of them,” he said.
In an email statement, Pierce thanked Semore for his contributions.
“Vista would like to thank Coach Semore for his effort and commitment to Vista Football,” he wrote. “Coach and his family have positively impacted Vista and the community. We wish him and his family the best.”
Semore said he’s going to take some time to talk things over with his family about his future. He said he still has a desire to coach, although he may take a year away from it and reassess things in 2022.
Since the pandemic has been a severe drain on teachers and administrators, Pierce said he’s going to take some time to relax during Christmas break and then focus on next steps toward the coaching hire when school resumes Jan. 5.