VALIER – Valier Panthers head football and wrestling coach Eric Watson announced his resignation as head coach. Watson’s current full-time job with the USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service is being transferred out of state.
“I’m very proud of the accomplishments that the boys had and the staff put together, we had a great run. A lot of very good memories from both football and wrestling, as well,” said Watson. “Placing third in wrestling the last two years in the state tournament, some very good memories. My only regret is not bringing the school a championship and a banner to hang.”
Watson might not have brought Valier a title, but he certainly put both the football and wrestling programs back on the map. For football, he compiled an overall record of 25-7, making the playoffs each season in his three-year stint as head coach. Valier improved to a 9-2 record in 2016 and then a 10-1 record last season, making it to the semifinals of the 6-Man playoffs each time. Valier’s last three losses were to Hot Springs twice (who won the 6-Man title in 2016) and Westby-Grenora (who won the 6-Man title in 2017).
Six players represented Valier in the 6-Man All-Star game this summer and three will go onto play football in college. Colten Curry is headed to the Big Sky Conference to play for the Montana Grizzlies, Trevor VandenBos signed to play football with Montana Tech, and Koltin Christiaens signed with Dickinson (N.D.) State. For Watson, there’s plenty of memories he’ll keep from his time coaching the Panthers.
“The camaraderie was fun. Just being with these kids is probably what I’m going to miss the most in some regards,” Watson said. “In the fall, it wasn’t uncommon for me to spend more time with them than their parents would. There’s a lot of memories. Certainly in the first year nobody expected us to do anything, and low and behold we were third in the conference. We won a playoff game on the road. The last two years it was going undefeated in conference. There’s a lot of those memories that will reside close to the ticker for me.”