Longtime central San Joaquin Valley football coach Rick Stewart has stepped down after he was diagnosed with leukemia, according to The Bakersfield Californian.
Stewart, 50, was coaching at Wasco High. He had previously served as head coach at Fresno, Corcoran, Delano, McFarland and Porterville.
Stewart told The Californian that the leukemia is not life-threatening, with doctors informing him of a 95 percent chance of surviving.
But coaching football and staying on top of his health issues became too much to manage.
“I just wasn’t giving the boys 100 percent of what they needed,” Stewart told The Californian. “I’ve been tired, low energy. It’s about the kids, and I didn’t think I was giving them enough.”
In his first season at Wasco, Stewart learned of the diagnosis in August. He hoped he could continue to coach, especially with son Jonathan a senior quarterback on the team.
Defensive assistant Chad Martinez will take over as interim coach.
Stewart enjoyed his greatest success at Porterville, where he transformed a struggling program into a title contender.
Porterville was 1-9 prior to Stewart joining the Panthers in 2007.
He finished 38-22 in five seasons there, including a 12-1 campaign in 2010 with a runner-up finish in the Central Section Division III championship. Stewart was 4-12 in a season and a half at Fresno in 2012-13.