Daily Progress file

Jeff Lloyd (left) has stepped down as Monticello football coach after five seasons.

Jeff Lloyd announced Monday that he has stepped down as Monticello High School’s football coach after five seasons.

He guided the Mustangs to a pair of playoff appearances in his five seasons in charge of the program. Monticello reached the second round of the playoffs in both 2015 and 2017.

Lloyd’s 24 career wins at Monticello rank second in the program’s history. Last fall, the Mustangs finished 2-8, including an emotional overtime victory over Jefferson District rival Western Albemarle.

“A lot of time and prayer went into making the decision,” Lloyd said. “I’m truly just burnt out and need a break. I need to take a year off and work on my own health and spend time with my wife and family. They are the biggest reasons why I am stepping down.”

The veteran coach decided to step away from coaching after 22 seasons, including the last five at Monticello. He hangs up his whistle with 149 career wins, including a Class 2 state championship at Manassas Park in 2005. He also posted 46 wins at Kettle Run and guided the Cougars to back-to-back regional championships in 2011 and 2012.

Lloyd said he spent some time after the season to reflect on his coaching career and made the decision to step away during the Thanksgiving holiday. He noted the increased demands of year-round practices and 7-on-7 tournaments throughout the summer had began to take its toll.

“Being a head coach is its own job in itself if you are going to be successful in addition to your real job, which is teaching,” Lloyd said. “I’m old school and like how it used to be. We have now forced kids into being one-sport specialists instead of being an all-around athlete. The days of three-sport athletes with the new rules are about over.”

Lloyd admits that stepping away from coaching might not be a permanent decision.

“Whether it’s for good, or just a hiatus, I really don’t know until I’m away from it for a while,” he said. “I still love high school football and coaching. After a year away and being home a lot, my wife may decide she doesn’t really want me at home that much.”

Known as a player’s coach, Lloyd’s top priority was to get the most out of everyone that put on a Monticello uniform.

Kevin Jarrell, who played three seasons for Lloyd at Monticello, can attest to his commitment to his players. He finished his career as the program’s all-time leader in total yards (8,492), passing yards (5,594) and rushing yards by a quarterback (2,888) and earned a football scholarship to William & Mary.

“I spent a lot of time with Coach Lloyd over the three years I played for him and we’ve gotten pretty close,” Jarrell said. “I wouldn’t be where I am right now without him.”

Jarrell’s first introduction to Lloyd came the summer heading into his sophomore year during 7-on-7 summer tournaments.

“I came straight from the state baseball tournament and I hadn’t thrown a football since the year before,” Jarrell said. “My first couple throws were just horrendous and he was all over me the whole day and I just remember thinking how the next couple of years were going to be long.”

Two years and three program records later, Jarrell said Lloyd was the perfect fit for the job.

“I had another coach tell me that by the end of my senior year it would be nothing but love [from Lloyd] and he couldn’t have been more right,” Jarrell said. “If it wasn’t for him coaching me so hard, I wouldn’t be where I am today. He’s truly been a blessing to me and my family.”

Monticello athletic director Matthew Pearman said Joe Weaver will oversee the program’s offseason activities in the interim. A search for Lloyd’s successor will begin immediately.

The future seems bright for the next Monticello coach. The Mustangs could return as many as 29 underclassmen, including all-district quarterback Malachi Fields. In addition, nearly 40 freshmen participated on the junior varsity squad last season, which should serve as a strong pipeline of talent in the coming seasons.

Lloyd meet with his team Monday to break the news to them and the reaction was mixed.

“My kids were kind of surprised, but they play football because they love it, not because of who is the coach,” Lloyd said. “The program is in good shape and returns 18 seniors and a Division I athlete in Malachi Fields. I’m most proud of the type of kids we helped shape after playing in our program.”

As for Lloyd, he believes he just needs some time away from the gridiron.

“If I miss it, I will return as a head coach somewhere,” he said. “If not, I have had a very good run and been blessed. I have accomplished everything you really can at the high school level.”

He said the thing he’ll most miss is the relationship with his players.

“For me, it has never been just about winning and losing,” Lloyd said. “It has always been about helping young men realize the importance of teamwork, discipline, selflessness, pushing through adversity and helping them become in the future — better husbands, fathers and society members.”

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