ROCKVILLE – After leading the Damascus High School football team to its 11th Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association state championship this past December, Head Coach Eric Wallich announced that he is stepping down on Jan. 17.
In a letter sent to players and members of the Damascus community, Wallich states that he felt that after spending 12 years with the football program, he needed to make “a change” for himself and his family. The letter was later released on the team’s Twitter account.
“The past twelve years at Damascus have been some of the most rewarding and best times of my personal and professional life, but I have come to a crossroad and feel I need to make a change for myself and my family,” Wallich said. “I have been thinking about this decision for a long time, and this has been one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make.”
Athletic Director Clifford Elgin confirmed Wallich’s resignation, stating that he and Wallich had discussions about leaving the program for “the past few weeks.” However, the decision ultimately came on his terms, Elgin said.
“I think he finally made up his mind this week, but he and I had talked about it earlier,” Elgin said. “He was not 100% decided, but he was trying to figure it out for himself. He had told me that he was thinking about giving it up earlier, but he had finally made that decision this week.”
Under Wallich, Damascus won four state championships and claimed the record for the longest winning streak in state history with 53 straight wins from 2014 to 2018.
Despite starting the 2019 season with two losses, including having to forfeit its first game after holding an illegal practice, Damascus went on a 12-game winning streak that concluded with them hoisting the 3A state championship after defeating Linganore 38-0 on Dec. 5. His team also featured the No. 1 football recruit in lineman Bryan Bresee, who signed to go to the Clemson University.
“This team was everybody, not just the seniors…the whole team was just a really tight-knit group, and everyone had each other’s backs,” Bresee said on Dec. 5 “And I think that’s another reason why this team was so special.”
However, in his statement, Wallich states that his twin children will be entering high school next year and would like to be more involved in their lives.
“Although I identify a huge part of myself as a coach, I identify as a husband and a father first. I will always put my family as the biggest priority in my life,” Wallich said. “Our family has invested everything we could into this, and all of us have a very heavy heart about this decision.”
His resignation comes after five junior varsity football players were accused of committing sexual assault to three younger teammates in the locker room in October 2018. Four players were charged as adults for using a wooden broomstick during the assault before their case moved to juvenile court.
Wallich did not address the sexual assault allegations in his letter, focusing on his times with the team and its players. Before the 2019 season, several members of the school administration and the whole junior varsity coaching staff were either removed or fired due to the sexual assault case.
During the season, Wallich and his coaching staff did not talk to local media at games or allowed them to attend practices, stating via email that they felt “bitter about the way we were portrayed and all the false information that was reported in the past months.”
Wallich stated in the letter that he plans to “ensure” Damascus hires a coach that can live up to the high standard the program is currently on.
Elgin did not confirm if Wallich will be a part of a selection committee to find a new coach but said that the school would take a few weeks after the release of the letter before starting the search.
“There are so many pieces to the puzzle to see who we go with,” Elgin said. “We haven’t talked to his staff to see who would like to stay on yet, and whoever gets hired is going to have a lot of say on who is on his staff.”
He confirmed that he plans to continue his role as a physical education teacher at the school and will be available to help the team in the weight room when possible.
“I have made many great friends and built many wonderful relationships over the years with coaches, parents and players that I hope will continue to prosper and grow in the future,” Wallich said. “The future of Damascus football looks bright, and the underclassmen and youth league are filled with talent.”