Union Local Football Coach Stiles Retiring

MORRISTOWN — It was announced just last week that Union Local’s Bruce Stiles would guide the Ohio All-Stars in the annual Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Rudy Mumley Charity Football Classic in late July.

Ironically, that will be the last time the 55-year-old Stiles roams the sidelines as a head coach. He submitted his letter of retirement Wednesday morning to Superintendent Ben Porter and Athletics Director Nick Nardo.

“Being a head football coach takes up a lot of your time. … A lot of your time,” Stiles said. “I haven’t taken my wife on a vacation in five years and my son is getting married this fall during football season. I can’t miss anything with his wedding and I won’t. There’s a lot of things that go along with that.

“The head coaching position was just too much for me to handle between all of the different hats I had to wear. I had to make sure all the uniforms were washed daily, the field was mowed, the kids’ ankles and knees were taped and other odd jobs that had to be done. I guess it’s time to spend more time with my family.”

Porter said the topic will be brought up at the next meeting of the Union Local School District Board of Education.

“I thank Bruce for all of his time and hard work,” Porter said. “He spent many hours building the program back up, especially in the weight room. Our speed and strength showed this season on the field and led to our success.”

Stiles, a 1981 Union Local graduate, cut his coaching teeth at Salem College after graduating in 1986. The standout defensive back helped out with spring ball under first-year head coach Terry Bowden, who is currently at the University of Akron after stints at Samford College and Auburn University. Stiles then spent two years at Barnesville under head coach Bill Dowler before hooking on with the St. Clairsville-Richland City School District as a teacher and assistant football coach, where he spent several years with Mike Young. It was then on to Buckeye Trail with Randy Thompson for a year before he returned to St. Clairsville to serve as Brett McLean’s defensive coordinator. He then accepted his first head coaching position at his alma mater. He had previously served as head coach of the St. C. girls’ basketball program.

Stiles led the Jets to the Division V, Region 19 state playoffs last fall in his fifth year as the head coach. They went 8-2 in the regular season — after a 6-0 start — winning the school’s first OVAC football championship before dropping a heart-breaker to Columbus Gahanna Academy in the first home playoff game in nine years, and only third postseason appearance in the 58-year history of the program.

“We surprised a lot of people didn’t we?” Stiles asked. “That’s the one thing I’m proud of my time at UL, is we turned the program around and it is in good place. The kids understood what working in the weight room meant. They understood the offseason stuff that we do. That’s a testament to the kids buying into what we were selling.

“They were a great bunch of kids, probably the most enjoyable group that I’ve been around.”

Stiles is no stranger to coaching in big games, especially during his tenure with the Red Devils.

“I’ve coached in a state championship game while at St. Clairsville, along with I don’t know how many regional games. We had several with Mike and several with Brett,” Stiles recalled. “I’ve been fortunate enough to coach in a bunch of big games, so it’s been an exciting career.”

Reaching the playoffs this past season fulfilled Stiles’ goal when he accepted the position.

“No offense to the previous coaches, but I just wanted to get things turned around and build the tradition back up,” he added. “I just wanted to get things in place for the next head coach. Whoever gets this job has got some tremendous young kids coming. Union Local is going to be a good football team in the future. There’s no doubt about it.”

He also had high praise for his loyal assistants, who include Vaughn Butler, Mike Menges, Bernie Thompson, Anthony Rocchio and Jeff Stewart.

“I’ve been around a lot of great coaches in my career,” Stiles said. “These guys stuck with me through it all and I couldn’t be any prouder of them for that.”

Stiles indicated he would still retain his teaching position at St. Clairsville.