LARNED – Larned High School football coach A.B. Stokes has submitted his resignation after back-to-back playoff appearances. Stokes has guided the Indians to 6-5 and 3-8 playoff seasons the past two years.
The Indians defeated Lakin 42-6 and lost to 3A state runner-up Marysville 36-28 in the football playoffs. Last year, Larned defeated Cimarron 34-30 and lost to Phillipsburg 14-7. The Indians are 27-32 in six seasons under Stokes.
“It was an extremely difficult decision – the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” Stokes said. “You never want to bring a sense of sadness to anyone. At the end of the day, I’m making a decision that’s I’m supposed to make at this point. It’s the right time.”
Beating rival Hoisington to win a District title and winning two playoff games rank among Stokes’ highlights.
“I was a guy who the kids responded to,” Stokes said. “I’ve watched these guys grow into fine young men. They wanted to be successful. They were coachable kids.”
The Indians also reached the playoffs in 2013 to qualify for postseason for the first time since 1985. The Indians finished 3-6 in Stokes’ first season.
“Larned football is trending in the right direction,” Stokes said. “This will create an opportunity for someone else.”
Stokes will work as an assistant wrestling coach and head track and field coach before planning to move to Oklahoma in May.
Stokes is in negotiations to work as an assistant coach at Southern Nazarene University in Bethany, Okla., an NCAA Division II school near Oklahoma City. He’ll work on his master’s degree at Southern Nazarene.
Stokes played football for coach Tim Lambert at Sterling College after growing up in Chicago. Southern Nazarene finished 4-7 under coach Tim Lambert this season.
“I have a tremendous amount of respect for coach Lambert. We’re trying to make it work. It’s not official yet,” Stokes said. “I have a few coaching opportunities to move up. I always wanted to coach in college.”