In one season as the coach of the Liberty Leopards football team, Brian Jones brought the program back to Trumbull County prominence.
The 2005 Liberty graduate led the team to a 9-3 record, which included a playoff win against Streetsboro, and the All-American Conference, National Division title. He also was named the Division IV Northeast Inland district coach of the year.
But even with the success he had on the field, Jones had to make the tough decision to step away from the Liberty program after one year at the helm.
"From a personal standpoint, I have to take a step back to focus on my career as an educator," Jones said. "It's a fact that we're educators first and a coach second. I have to make a move that's best for myself and my career right now."
This past year, Jones held a part-time position at Liberty as the ISS teacher. He said that he'll be looking in to heading back to school to work on further certifications in education.
Prior to Jones taking over the Liberty program, the Leopards went through some rough years. From 2009-2011, the team went a combined 5-25, including an 0-10 season in 2011. With their 9-3 record last season, Jones took the Leopards to the playoffs for the first time since 2008 and led the team to its best record since 2006.
"From the media and fans' perspective, the biggest impact they are going to see is the 1-19 record and that I took them to the playoffs and we won a playoff game," Jones said. "But for me, the thing I looked at was not the wins and losses or the accolades, but the interaction with the kids. It's about the kids and trying to make an impact on their lives and trying to point them in the right direction. That's what I'll take away from this year."
Jones informed the team on Wednesday of his decision. A call to Liberty athletic director George Gulgas was not returned. There is no word yet on a replacement for the position.
Though he's stepping away from the sideline at Liberty Leopard Stadium, Jones will get one more crack at coaching high school athletes this season. On June 20, he will be one of the head coaches in the 29th annual Jack Arvin Classic at Girard's Arrowhead Stadium.
He's also not saying he's done with coaching for good, but for right now, it's a move he needs to make.
"Right now, I'm just trying to get things in order personally," Jones said. "Once I get an opportunity to get back on the field, and it's the right option for me, I'll be back."