Football coach Tim Sarver says the upcoming football season at Harrisonburg will be his last.
Sarver, who has been the head coach of the Blue Streaks since 1985, plans to retire following the season.
"I think you get to a point where you realize it's just time," Sarver said Thursday morning. "I always wanted to go out on my own terms. And I feel comfortable that the program will be in good hands. And I'm ready to go out."
Sarver broke the news to this year's team and their parents on Wednesday, and told his coaching staff earlier this week.
"I'm still hoping he'll pull a Brett Favre," joked athletic director and longtime Sarver assistant Joe Carico.
"I guess you know it's going to come at some point. But it was a surprise," said assistant coach Chris Grefe.
"A lot of us, we were talking last night, and we were like, 'I can't believe it's his last year. We've got to do what we can to make it one of his best,'" said rising senior lineman Landon Turner.
Sarver's tenure at Harrisonburg includes a AA state championship in 2001, and another trip to the title game in 2004. The Streaks have also won seven straight district titles - four in the Valley District, and the last three in the Massanutten.
His 265 wins rank fourth among active coaches in Virginia.
"In the last 26 years, you think of Harrisonburg High School and football. You start thinking about it, and Tim Sarver's the first person you think about," said Carico.
"And Coach Sarver's not just about making football players," Carico added. "He's trying to take these young men that we have here, and make them into a better person."
"I don't want to sound cliche, but definitely responsibility. And making sure you're on time for things, doing the right thing," said Turner. "He's a no-nonsense coach. He's definitely a bit old school."
Grefe was a freshman on Sarver's first team at Harrisonburg in 1985, and has spent the past 17 years on the Blue Streak coaching staff.
"He knows what he wants from you - as a player, and as a coach," Grefe said. "And he makes sure that you give that to him. He won't accept anything less."
The Streaks open practice on Monday. Sarver's final season begins September 4 at Handley.
"My passion for football hasn't died out at all," Sarver said. "We've had a great ride, and hopefully this will be the same sort of season that we've had in the past."
But Turner, who plans to enroll at North Carolina in January after verbally committing to the school last month, has bigger ideas.
"Honestly, we'd like to give him a state championship," Turner said. "That's what we're working for every year."
"That would be the best way you could possibly go out," agreed Grefe. "But just to be successful and to teach these kids something. Coach Sarver would be happy with that."
"I hope he goes out the way he came in. With class, dignity, and respect for the game," said an emotional Carico. "Play it as hard as you can, and may the chips fall where they may."
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