Cale Piland, who won a state championship as Evergreen’s football coach and then started the football program at Union, is leaving the coaching ranks.
Piland announced Wednesday that he is resigning as Union’s head football coach and athletic director in order to take a over as the director of athletics and activities for Evergreen Public Schools.
“The job I have right now is one of the greatest jobs in the world. It was going to take something I felt was a unique and special opportunity to step away from it. I think this position is just that,” Piland said. “To have influence over all of our athletic and activity programs in the district is a pretty big job. I’m excited to take on the challenge.”
Piland broke the news to the football players Wednesday.
“I told them it was a very difficult decision for me to make,” Piland said. “What made it the most difficult was all of them. I thanked them for their dedication and commitment to the program.”
Piland moved from Evergreen to Union when Union High School opened its doors in the fall of 2007. The football program won six games that initial season, then rolled off 13 wins in a row in 2008, reaching the Class 3A state championship game. In 2009, Union made it to the state semifinals.
“To walk away from it is not an easy thing to do,” he said.
Piland took over for Jon Eagle — who is now at Camas — at Evergreen in 2001. In 2003, Piland led the Plainsmen to the Class 4A state semifinals. A year later, the Plainsmen became the first big school from Clark County to win a state championship in football, going 14-0. Evergreen remains the only football team from Vancouver to win a state title.
Piland, who graduated from Mountain View High School before playing at Pacific Lutheran University, became as assistant coach at Evergreen. From there, he took his first head coaching job at Juanita, where he was for one year before returning to Evergreen to take over for Eagle.
That first season at Juanita was Piland’s only season with a losing record.
His Plainsmen won four Class 4A Greater St. Helens League titles in a row from 2002 through 2005. At Union, the Titans won 3A GSHL titles in 2008 and 2009. Union moved to Class 4A in 2010 and has made the playoffs in each of the past four seasons, including a run to the quarterfinals in 2011.
His record stands at 117-39, a .750 winning percentage.
This fall will be the first time in 30 years Piland will not be stepping on the football field as a player or a coach.
“That’s going to take a little getting used to, that’s for sure,” said Piland, who celebrated his 40th birthday Wednesday.
He will be plenty busy, though, overseeing sports and activities at the elementary, middle, and high school levels.
“I’m still going to be in the gym a lot, at stadiums, at fields,” he said.
Piland said the district will post the opening for the football coach but the search is time sensitive. Spring practice begins in a little more than a month.
Besides the football position, Union is looking for a new athletic director. Piland has been in charge of Union athletics since the school’s beginning.
“I think we’ve had a broad range of success across the board, athletically, at Union,” Piland said. “We were able to hire some very good people who were very passionate to start the program here. The programs have been at an attractive enough level that we’ve been able to replace good people with more good people.”
Now, the school will be replacing Piland.
While it is possible one person could be hired to do both jobs, Piland said the positions are not tied to one another.