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Woodstock coach Brent Budde walks the sideline during the Wolverines’ game against Creekview earlier this season.

For the first time in more than a decade, Woodstock is searching for a head football coach.

On Thursday, Brent Budde revealed in a post on the Woodstock football team’s Twitter account that he would be stepping down from his position. He leaves as the winningest coach in program history, accumulating a 51-64 record during his 11 seasons.

“It was an agreement that the program needed to go in a different direction,” Budde told the Tribune. “As I told the team, I’ve always only wanted what’s best for the Woodstock program, our coaches and players. I told the players this morning when I talked with them that it’s not about me. I’ve always wanted what’s best for this program.”

Budde has spent his entire 23-year coaching career on the sideline at Woodstock. He began as an assistant in 1998 under his father, Chuck Budde, who served as Woodstock’s head coach from 1998-2000.

Budde remained an assistant under subsequent head coaches Rodney Floyd and Mike O’Brien before assuming the head-coaching duties in 2010.

Woodstock finished the 2020 season 3-7 for the third consecutive year, but Budde’s tenure also saw three state playoff berths, including back-to-back second-round appearances in 2016 and ‘17. Budde won his first playoff game in 2016 when the Wolverines overcame a 34-7 halftime deficit to beat East Coweta 35-34.

A year later, Budde was named the Cherokee Tribune Football Coach of the Year honors after leading the Wolverines to a region runner-up finish and winning a home playoff game for the second year in a row.

Budde said Woodstock’s 28-14 defeat of North Paulding in the 2017 playoffs was one of the games that would stay in his memory.

“We lost to them earlier that year, and winning that game was big for our players,” Budde said. “It was about more than football.”

Budde’s first win came in his first game as head coach — a 7-0 win at North Forsyth to open the 2010 season. His final win came in a 24-14 win over archrival Etowah earlier this season.

Budde steps down with a 5-6 record against Etowah in the “Battle of Towne Lake,” but the Wolverines have won three of the last five in the rivalry.

Budde coached five all-state players during his tenure (Latrell Bankston, Garrett Bass, Noah Frith, Louis Hall, Trevor Stephens), and his 2017 team set a modern county record with 77 points in a win over Kennesaw Mountain.

Budde said a number of former players reached out to him Thursday afternoon, offering messages of support.

“I’ve only been here,” Budde said. “If you move around, maybe you’re used to this a little more, but I’m 46 years old, and for exactly half of my life, I’ve been coming up here on this hill. There are just so many memories.”

Woodstock athletic director Chris Bennett said the school is still in the early stages of its coaching search. Bennett said the job would be officially posted online Friday, and he hoped to be conducting interviews by January.

“We respect coach Budde’s decision, and it’s a huge loss for Woodstock and the Woodstock community,” Bennett said. “We have a huge amount of respect for coach Budde, and I just can’t stress enough how great a person he is. You meet people in your life who make you a better person, and coach Budde is one of those people.”

Budde said he intends to remain in coaching and will continue to root for the Woodstock program even after he leaves. He said the community’s impact on his family goes well beyond the playing field.

“We always tried to do it the right way and make it about the kids,” Budde said. “The wins and the losses, they come and go, but what I’ll take away are the relationships. My family and I were so fortunate to be a part of this community.”

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