After more than a month of contemplation, Scott Statz is stepping down as Platteville High School’s head football coach.
Statz first told his daughter Nicole, a freshman at PHS and a football team manager, then broke the news to his assistant coaches last Wednesday night.
Thursday morning he made it official by informing PHS principal Tim Engh and PHS assistant principal and activities director Eric Newton that he wouldn’t be returning for a 15th season as Platteville’s football coach.
Shortly after he held a team meeting in high school auditorium during homeroom period to inform his players.
“I told the principal and athletic director that I was leaning this direction about a month ago, but that I wanted to take my time with making the decision,” said Statz, who is also an English teacher at PHS and will remain in that position.
“This has nothing to do with the recent situation with the volleyball program, this is something I’ve been thinking about for a couple of years,” added Statz. “I’ve been a teacher for 21 years and a head football coach for 20 of those years and that is a lot of responsibility. There are some other things I would like to do.”
Statz led the Hillmen to a 7–4 record this fall, a 4–1 second-place finish in the Southwe Wisconsin Conference and to the second round of the WIAA Division 4 playoffs, before a 31–6 to Lodi — Statz’s former school — ended Platteville’s season.
Statz compiled a 95–52 (.646) record in 14 seasons as Platteville’s head coach, led the Hillmen to three conference titles (2004, 2006, 2007) and 11 playoff berths, all in the last 12 years. But Statz’s crowning achievement on the sideline came just two seasons ago when he led the Hillmen to the 2013 WIAA D4 state championship game, where Platteville suffered a 28–14 loss to Winneconne.
Statz was also named the SWC Coach of the Year in 2004 and 2006.
“The bottom line is I love coaching, but I do not want to be a head coach anymore,” said Statz. “Head coaches will understand that. I’m very proud of what we have built. Those coaches, players, and support staff will have many memories that we will cherish together forever. Those people know how much they mean to me and that is so very important.
“I want to thank my family, the players, the coaches, the teachers, the football support staff and the Hillmen football fans. I’ve had a blast.”
Prior to accepting coming to Platteville in 2001, Statz was a coach at Lodi High School for sevens seasons and the head coach from 1996–2000, compiling a 32–22 mark while leading the Blue Devils to their first two playoff appearances in 1996 and 1997.
In 20 seasons as a head coach Statz’s record is 127–74 (.632) with 13 playoff appearances.
“I loved playing for coach Statz in high school,” said Louis Nzegwu, who played running back and defensive end for Statz in 2005 and 2006, and then played for Wisconsin. “He made the game of football fun and it was surprising to hear about him stepping down. He was not only a great coach but also a great person and mentor. Of course, my parents and family did the best job raising me, but Coach Statz played a key role in my growth and maturity throughout high school. He not only helped guide me but others like Jesse Baker, Mike Stark, and Matt Withrow (to name a few) continue to play football at a high level after high school. I don’t believe too many coaches in the SWC can say the same.”
Nzegwu was a backup tight end on the Hillmen junior varsity as a sophomore.
“I remember sitting down with Coach Statz talking to him about playing running back and being skeptical if he’ll give me a chance to play ... mainly because there were so many good players,” he said. “He looked me in the eye and told me that it wasn’t his decision to make whether I play or not but my own, and that the best players will play no matter the age or experience. He then advocated that nothing worth having is given, but earned.
“We bought into it and nearly every player was part of the offseason lifting program. We never had players complain to their parents about anything because we knew it was in our hands and anybody else had nothing to do with it. And that is one of the things I liked most about coach Statz; he gave everybody fair and equal opportunity. Everything else took care of itself through hard work and dedication. There weren’t going to be any handouts, and everything was going to be obtained with effort and accountability.”
Nzegwu said Statz “taught us how to overcome struggles, how life isn’t fair for anybody, and not to feel bad for yourself. You’ve got to have a coach that is hard on you, gets you out of your comfort zone, breaks you down mentally and physically.
“You’ve got to be able to handle criticism and be mentally tough in life. Coach Statz prepared us very well for that.”
“It was a lot of fun playing for coach Statz,” said volunteer assistant coach Kyle Wagner, who played quarterback and safety under Statz in 2006 and 2007. “I have always respected him and believed in his scheme. We all knew he was a great coach while we were playing for him and it shows by his wins and postseason appearances. A few things I learned from him were discipline, hard work, perseverance, respect and trust.
“I also had a blast coaching with him, and he was a great mentor of the game. We became better friends and I gained even more respect for him as a person and a coach.”
“Scott was always a challenge to coach against,” said longtime Lancaster football coach John Hoch. “He had his teams well prepared and would scheme to get the most out of his players when you competed against his teams.
“Scott will be missed. I do not know if there is a person in our league that put more time into preparing his teams to play on Friday nights. Scott was well liked by the coaches in the league. With him at Platteville it made it even more of rivalry game between Platteville and Lancaster. I know he will be missed at Platteville High School Football.”