Of course, SC was denied a shot at playing for a third straight title in 2010 because it had to forfeit a playoff semifinal victory against Brooke for using ineligible players. That stemmed from a fight at the end of a quarterfinal win against Hurricane the previous week in which several players were ejected.
"Obviously, that took a lot of wind out of my sails,'' Messinger said. "We did some good things, some things we wanted to do, had some success and were able to win a couple championships, and no doubt there could have been another.''
Messinger steps aside having missed the postseason in each of his last two years. The Black Eagles went 5-5 in 2011 and finished tied for 20th in the Class AAA ratings (four spots out of the final berth) and 6-4 and tied for 17th this year.
"Everybody thought that next year [in 2011] was a disappointing year when we went 5-5, but with that bunch of kids, that was a victory for us,'' Messinger said. "We could have been 2-8 or 3-7. But honest to goodness, that 7-6 loss at Ripley this year will haunt me more than that [61-0] whooping we took from GW the year before.
"It was a great opportunity to coach here, and I thought we had enough success that we made some people happy over the years. With our community and our school, I really feel like those things are not a reflection of just me, but of our staff and our kids. This team has accomplished more with less than a lot of teams. There's not a lot of money left in our community, and every week it was getting tougher to find people to do things.''
As Messinger looks back at his time at SC, he can feel comfort in knowing he's leaving the program in pretty good shape.
"When Mr. [Bill] Walton was principal and hired me,'' Messinger said, "his main concerns were the discipline of the kids, keeping them in school and keeping them honest. He said winning games was not a priority. I told him we'll win games and do all those other things. To me, it's all about the kids - discipline and hard work, being a good son, being a good student and being a good citizen. Do that and the football part will be easy.
"I'm sure they'll have a lot of people apply for that job and I think we'll find the best man and the program will still thrive. And I'll be around. I'm not going anywhere. If the next [staff] has something on their mind and needs help and I'm not interfering, I'll be glad to help. I could always count on Vernon Redman [his predecessor] giving me good advice or to pick me up when I needed it over the years. Now I'd like to be that guy who comes up with a half-decent answer to help them along.''
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or rickr...@wvgazette.com.