Steve Dudley resigns as St. Petersburg Catholic coach

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Tue. January 21, 2014 | John C. Cotey | Email

Steve Dudley resigns as St. Petersburg Catholic coach

Steve Dudley, who helped bring St. Petersburg Catholic back to prominence this past season, has resigned as football coach.

He met with his players at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday to tell them of his decision.

"It was a very difficult decision,'' Dudley said. "It was probably harder on me than it was on them. I've been thinking about this for about a month and I met with the administration last week to tell them I was going to do this. It came down to being a financial decision. With the industry I'm in right now (medical sales), it has changed so much. It has become harder and harder for me to juggle my time. I finally just had to make this decision.''

Dudley has been the Barons' coach since 2011. He was 14-18 overall and led SPC to the second round of the playoffs in 2013. Prior to joining SPC, he coached Canterbury from 2007-10. 

The Barons were 8-4 in 2013 and won a postseason game for the first time since 2005. They produced two 1,000-yard rushers -- Tony Jones Jr. and Jacquan Fuller -- and featured one of the top recruits in the country in offensive tackle Reilly Gibbons.

But athletic director Mike Moran said juggling a job in sales with coaching was wearing on Dudley.

"Steve took the program over at a time three years ago when it was really struggling, and in that short period of time he turned us into a 7-3 team that reached the regional semifinals and won a playoff game for the first time in several years,'' said Moran. "While we aren't happy to see him go, we understand his decision and wish him well."

Dudley, 50, began coaching in 1986 after ending a playing career at St. Petersburg High and Harding University in Arkansas. He does not know whether he will return to coaching.

"It's in my blood,'' Dudley said. "It's my true calling. But in the situation I'm in right now I had to make this decision. I have nothing but good things to say about St. Pete Catholic.''

Though Moran said there was no correlation, the Barons have been hit hard in the past month by transfers. Dudley's replacement will inherit a team that could be in need of another rebuilding job.

Jones, who had 1,145 yards and 12 touchdowns last season and also played baseball at SPC, has transferred to IMG Academy in Bradenton, while starting quarterback Jack Sheehan and another running back, Stephon Williams (726 yards, eight TDs), have left for Calvary Christian.

Those interested in the job should mail resumes to St. Petersburg Catholic at 6333 9th Ave. N, St. Petersburg, 33710 or email Moran at mmoran@spchs.org.

Moran said SPC will keep the job open for seven to 10 days before beginning the interview process, adding that it's a "safe bet" the school will fill the position within a month.

Times staff writer Rodney Page contributed to this report.

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