Clifton Park The only coach the Shenendehowa football team has known will step down following this season.
Brent Steuerwald ended weeks of speculation Thursday when he announced that he will retire at the end of his 44th season at the helm.
"There is no good time to say this is the end, but it is inevitable," said Steuerwald during a press conference at Shenendehowa High School East. "And I often said I would want to leave this program at a very strong point."
"It will be very hard to replace Brent Steuerwald," said Shen Athletic Director Chris Culnan.
Steuerwald told his coaching staff about his decision prior to the start of training camp, but he waited until just before Thursday's press conference to tell his players that this would be his final season.
"We were a little shocked, but we knew it was going to come eventually," said senior quarterback Ted VanGalen.
"We knew it was probably in the works for maybe 10 months or even maybe a year ago," said long-time assistant coach Mark McQuade. "There was speculation that this would be his final year, but we didn't know for sure until he told us."
Steuerwald -- who owns a 307-84-4 career record -- said that the decision was not one that suddenly came to him.
"It wasn't a revelation," he said. "It was a long process where I felt that there would be a limit to what I could do."
Shen has been the pre-eminent large school football program under Steuerwald. The Plainsmen have won 12 Section II championships and 24 league titles since he began the varsity program in 1968.
"I've often said that if our kids consistently strive for excellence in performance, then the wins will come," said Steuerwald.
But, Steuerwald said it's been the rare losing seasons that have been among some of his most memorable years.