AZTEC — Less than two years after taking over as the head football coach at Aztec High School, Eric Stovall has decided to step down from that position.
Stovall, who accepted the position to lead the Tigers sideline in March, 2020, announced his resignation earlier this week according to Aztec High School athletic director Bryan Sanders.
"This was one hundred percent his decision," Sanders said earlier this week. "We really appreciate what he did for us and for the kids during his time."
Stovall achieved a record of 4-12 during two seasons as Aztec's head coach, said the decision was based primarily on family and health concerns.
"I feel like we've done some good things on and off the field," Stovall said. "I've been doing this for a long time and it's got so many rewards, but it's important to refocus and pay attention to my health and family."
Stovall took over the job from Matthew Steinfeldt, who stepped down after the conclusion of the 2019 season to take over as head coach of the Bear Creek Bears in Lakewood, Colorado.
Stovall's hiring at Aztec came at nearly the same time as the height of the pandemic, forcing schools to shut down in-person learning and forcing athletic programs to shut down.
"(Stovall) got hired at a really bad time," Sanders admitted. "There were issues with limited contact with kids and it was rough for him and for us. It's admirable what he was able to do through all of that."
Prior to being the head coach at Aztec, Stovall achieved a career mark of 37-18 while coaching at Shiprock (2015 through 2017) and Newcomb (2018 and 2019). His teams won three district titles (two at Shiprock, one at Newcomb).
Stovall was an assistant coach at Aztec from 2007-2012, coaching special teams, wide receivers, fullbacks, quality control and defensive line.
Stovall also served as head football coach at Koogler Middle School from 2009-2011 before spending time in Farmington, serving as a football and basketball coach at Heights Middle School in 2013 and 2014.
This past season, the Tigers went 3-8 and were knocked out of the state Class 4A football playoffs when they lost at Ruidoso by a final of 35-7.
Prior to that, Stovall's team played a minimal schedule during an abbreviated spring season last year, in which the Tigers went 1-4.
Stovall was especially proud of his team's efforts, not just on the field but also in the classroom and around the community.
"Seven years of head coaching, and being able to achieve 41 wins, that's real important to me," Stovall said. "But more important, I'm proud of the academic success my kids have shown the past seven years. The work the kids have put in off the field, whether it was honoring veterans or helping clean up the community. It's not just about what we did on the field, but off the field as well."
Sanders indicated there was no significant timeline in naming a successor to Stovall, but that the process is helped by announcing the change sooner rather than later.
"We don't want to wait too long," Sanders said. "We'll develop a committee to look at what we want out of a coach. We're not in a hurry necessarily, but at the same time, we are."
Steve Bortstein can be reached via email at SBortstein@Gannett.com, via Twitter @DTSBortstein or on the phone at (505) 635-2680.
This article originally appeared on Farmington Daily Times: Aztec High School football coach steps down after two seasons