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Amanda Dodge • Oceana’s Herald-Journal file photo

Hart coach Eric Anderson (in hat) talks with Pirate Leo Guadarrama as the team regroups for the second quarter during a game this season. Anderson resigned as Hart’s coach this month.

Hart is on the hunt for a football coach for the second time in the past five months after coach Eric Anderson resigned following one season with the Pirates.

Anderson succeeded Rick Witteveen, who stepped aside after the MHSAA originally moved football season to the spring in August amid COVID-19 concerns. The decision was ultimately reversed, but Witteveen, who had resigned because his work raising beef cattle and in the logging industry didn’t allow him the time to coach in the spring, was unable to return to Hart. He later joined Hesperia’s staff as defensive coordinator for a season under Doug Bolles, who also resigned after the season.

Similarly to Witteveen’s departure, Anderson’s resignation came from time constraints. Hart athletic director Tim Hertzler said Anderson, who is retired, has a side job delivering RV trailers around the country and would not have time to remain at Hart while doing that job.

Anderson added that he was hopeful he would be able to remain the head coach, but after going through a season of the duties, determined that he wouldn’t be able to give the job the time it deserved amid his other responsibilities.

“I really didn’t want to resign,” Anderson said. “I think, going into next year, having more time with the kids and with the program, I could add some coaching, and I felt pretty confident we might be able to possibly make the playoffs.

“Going through it and seeing what’s involved for the head coach and the amount of time and commitment and everything, I just can’t commit that amount of time to it, still having two kids in college and having to deal with that. My hat’s off to other head coaches. The amount of time and energy they put into taking care of and building a program, it’s a big job. I just didn’t want to be in a position where I couldn’t do the right things for the school district or the kids.”

Anderson added that he enjoyed his time at Hart and that any coach would be fortunate to take the job.

“What a great place,” Anderson said. “It can fly under the radar, but you get in there and meet the people and the kids, what a great place. Tim Hertzler, the superintendent (Mark Platt), the principal (Matt McDonald), these are great people leading that district. Anyone out there looking to coach or teach needs to put Hart on their radar.”

Hertzler said the school’s hope and goal is for the next football coach to be someone who works in the district. He said he does not believe any current district employee will pursue the job, but the district will look over open positions for the 2021-22 school year and hope to identify a candidate who also wants to coach.

“We’re kind of (looking for) someone who can stick around, so we figure if we can get someone working in the district, (that can happen),” Hertzler said.

The athletic director added that the school feels it has “ a pretty compelling situation” for a new football coach. Although the Pirates only managed one victory in 2020, they showed signs of improvement in several games, particularly on offense, despite being injury-plagued much of the season. Hertzler added that with the West Michigan Conference likely realigning into two tiers for the 2022-23 school year, the Pirates’ schedule will become more conducive to success as well.

“We have a lot of good athletes in our program,” Hertzler said. “We just need someone to come in to put all those pieces together and build a strong program.”

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