Posted: 10:51 am Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

American Heritage names Doug Socha head coach, athletic director 

By Jason Lieser

American Heritage did not look beyond its own walls to find a replacement for Willie Bueno.

Bueno resigned as football coach and athletic director last week and Headmaster Bob Stone announced Tuesday that former offensive coordinator Doug Socha will fill both roles.

“We have enough talent on our staff, so if we could find one guy who could be the football coach and an administrator, that’s what we wanted,” Stone said. “Doug Socha was a uniquely qualified person to do both jobs.

“If you try to bring in somebody with a big reputation, you have a lot more unknowns. There’s a lot more at stake. In our case, we thought Doug could take a shot at it and have it be a seamless thing.”

Stone informed the football players of Socha’s hiring earlier today.

Socha, 34, currently works as a dean of students and Stone said he will continue to hold that position in addition to his new responsibilities.

Bueno stepped down Thursday after going 47-16 and winning two state championships in five seasons.

Bueno did not give a reason for his departure and declined to say whether his decision was voluntary. He said last week he plans to take another coaching job before the upcoming season.

Stone said Bueno left the school on his own and the move was “surprising.”

“He’s a great guy and an awesome coach,” Stone said of Bueno. “His real love is football. An athletic director, which is a big job around this place, is not just about football. So I think Willie wants to take on a new challenge and have it all revolve around football.

“We certainly wish Willie the best. He’s a great guy and a good friend of mine.”

Socha inherits a team that won two of the past three Class 1A state championships and went 11-3 last year. The Stallions beat Jacksonville-Trinity Christian for the 2009 title Dec. 11.

He also takes over a program that frequently is the subject of recruiting rumors.

“I think it’s a good time to address it with a new coach and a new athletic director,” Stone said.

“I will address it with Doug Socha, I want to make sure we don’t have that reputation. Anybody who comes here, I want them to find their own way instead of us having the reputation of going out and picking players.”

Stone also said he wants Socha to oversee improvements to American Heritage’s middle school sports programs.