In 1998, in only his second year as the Morro Bay High football coach, John Andree experienced his most memorable coaching moment — one that would shape the course of school history.
On Oct. 16 of that year, the Pirates beat Atascadero, 34-19, for the first time since 1971.
“That’s when the program made a change,” Andree said.
Morro Bay went on to capture the first of two Los Padres League titles under Andree’s watch with a 4-1 record and finished 8-4 overall after losing in the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 10 playoffs. The Pirates would never be the same after that season.
On Wed-nesday, Andree announced he would step down after 27 years coaching varsity football, including a 15-year run as Morro Bay’s head coach, to spend more time with his wife, Jamie, and their 10- and 15-year-old sons. His Morro Bay career is punctuated by league titles in 1998 and 2007 and a 92-78 overall record (48-40 in the LPL), as his teams won nine playoff games after making the postseason in 11 of his 15 years.
“I have two boys, and the fact that I preach to them that family and education is more important than football, it’s time for me to heed those words,” said Andree, whose father was also a high school football coach. “It was time to step back. It was time for me to be more involved as a parent.”
Morro Bay had its best year in 2007, when the Pirates won the league title and were undefeated at 11-0 until a 48-45 overtime loss to St. Bernard of Playa del Rey in the second round of the section’s Northwest Division playoffs. That year, Morro Bay finished 10th in the state’s Division 3 poll.
This past season, Morro Bay had one of its worst records at 1-9 overall.
Though they made the playoffs in 2010, the Pirates’ last winning season was in 2008, when they finished 8-5.
Andree will continue to be around Morro Bay sports as the school’s athletic director — a position he’s held for five years. He isn’t retiring. And he hasn’t ruled out returning to the Pirates football staff as an assistant in the future.
After a seven-year stay as defense coordinator at San Jose’s Del Mar and then five years as a first-time head coach at San Jose’s Gunderson, Andree was hired by Morro Bay to become the school’s varsity football head coach in 1997. Morro Bay was 3-7 in Andree’s first year.
It wasn’t an easy beginning, judging by the school’s past. Morro Bay won only 106 games from 1959 to 1996 — just 14 more victories than during Andree’s tenure.
Morro Bay also had individual successes under Andree, with numerous players moving on to play at the college level. His most notable alumni include: Logan Budd, named the Tribune’s County Player of the Year after the 2007 season who is now preparing for his senior year as a safety at Cal Poly, and Jerome Long, a senior nose guard at San Diego State who is considered an NFL Draft prospect.
“I learned a lot from John and his brother, and growing up in Cayucos, I’ve seen Morro Bay play for a long time,” said Budd, who quarterbacked the 2007 Pirates to an 11-1 record after completing 90 of 162 passes for 1,668 yards and 16 touchdowns with one interception in Andree’s spread offense. “He’s done a great job making the program strong and taking kids to the playoffs year after year. He definitely had faith in me and helped me. He’s a great guy and I have all the respect in the world for him.”
Despite all that success, Andree said it was time for a break.
Coaching high school football “is just not something I do,” he said. “It’s a lifestyle. My whole life revolved around football. This is uncharted territory for me. I don’t know what I’ll do without football. I’m going to miss everything about it.”
Andree said Morro Bay will look to fill his position within the current coaching staff. If that doesn’t happen the position will be open to the public.