Hanford High School baseball coach Tom DeWitz turned in his resignation earlier this year, but the longtime coach completed the 2016 season with the Falcons before the school sought his replacement.
Hanford didn’t have to look far, promoting assistant Nat Roe, who has been with the program since 2009.
“I know all the kids,” Roe said. “I have coached them before and in the summer. We won’t miss a beat. The success the Flames have had in the summer helped my cause a lot.”
Roe has led the Senior American Legion Hanford Flames to five state appearances in the past six years, winning a state championship in 2013.
DeWitz coached the Falcons for 11 seasons and finished with a 159-100 record, despite going 5-15 this year.
Hanford won a Mid-Columbia Conference championship in 2012, claimed regional titles in 2010 and 2011, and made five state appearances.
“I had a lot of fun coaching against the coaches here,” DeWitz said. “Guys like Tim Sanders (Southridge). We had some big wins against Southridge and some big losses. I really, really enjoyed it.
“This was my first losing season. You always want to win a little more. We were competitive every season. That’s all I could ask for, and to be someone who was tough to beat. We lost eight of our league games by one run this year.”
But football is his first love.
DeWitz was hired in January to head up the new Ridgevue Warhawks football team in Nampa, Idaho.
Ridgevue, which will open in the fall, will be the second high school in the Vallivue School District. Ridgevue and Vallivue both will compete in the 4A Southern Idaho Conference.
DeWitz got his coaching staff hired a couple of weeks ago. In two weeks, he will be gone from the Tri-Cities for good.
“I really enjoy coaching baseball, but I have always considered myself a football coach first,” DeWitz said. “I have been looking for the right job. I applied for a couple last year, and they didn’t work out. It will be a sweet deal. I’m pretty excited about it.
“This is my first head-coach job for football. It’s a great opportunity. We will have about 1,200 kids (at the school). We will have a varsity and a freshman team. The juniors and seniors get a choice to stay at Vallivue or move to Ridgevue. By the third year, we should have about 2,500 students.”
DeWitz was an Associated Press First-Team I-AA All-American for Boise State in 1987 and a second-team All-American in 1986. The guard also earned a spot on the Bronco Stadium 35th Anniversary team in 2005.
DeWitz was an assistant for the Hanford football team for 11 years. He also was an assistant at California’s Palm Desert High School for 15 years.
Roe, a 1989 graduate of Richland High School, was a three-sport athlete for the Bombers. He went on to play baseball at Columbia Basin College before graduating from Washington State University with a degree in civil engineering/environmental science.
Roe works for Washington River Protection Services.
The Idaho Statesman contributed to this report.