By Rob Todor
Mike Kopachy, who has led the Salem High football program to unprecedented achievements the last three years, has resigned as head coach.
Kopachy, a graduate of Chaney High School where he was a standout All-City performer for Ron Berdis, and later an assistant coach with the Cowboys, cited family health issues.
Kopachy said he recently learned of a personal health issue which precipitated his decision.
He said his wife has also experienced some health issues in recent years.
“There’s just a lot going on right now,” said Kopachy by telephone on Tuesday, shortly after a meeting with the Salem players in which he informed them of his decision.
“That was tough to do,” he said. “Pretty emotional.”
Kopachy struck down a rumor that he was going to Canfield as an assistant coach.
“I don’t know where that got started and I don’t like it,” he said.
Kopachy said he will continue to teach junior- and senior-level English at Salem High School.
“It would have been tough being at practice every day, with everything that’s going on,” he said.
“My first consideration right now is the family; I’ve got to take care of those things,” he said.
Kopachy’s first head coaching position was at Western Reserve from 2003-08. He was 30-33 with the Blue Devils, but went 23-10 his last three seasons with two playoff appearances in Division VI.
He was hired at Salem for the 2009 season and made an immediate impact, guiding the Quakers to a 9-3 record and the first playoff appearance in school history.
Salem won its first postseason game, 38-31 in overtime at Granville, before falling to Steubenville 34-10.
The Quakers went 8-3 the following season and again qualified for the playoffs. Salem went 5-5 last season in its first season in the Northeastern Buckeye Conference.
He has a career record of 52-44.
“We are extremely proud of the strides that the football program and its athletes made,” said Salem Superintendent Tom Bratten in a statement. “The teams gave this district and this city a lot to cheer for and be proud of.
“I wish Coach Kopachy luck with his personal issues, and I wish him nothing but the best professionally. We are always preaching to our employees that first comes God, then family, then work and if one of those needs tending to, then that’s where your focus must lie. When it comes to family matters, nothing ever should come into question when decisions are made based on that.”
Kopachy was selected to coach the Mahoning-Columbiana team in the Mahoning Valley Coaches Association all-star game in June at Girard’s Arrowhead Stadium.
“That will be a last hurrah-type deal, a nice get-together with the five seniors [from Salem] I’ll be taking,” said Kopachy.
“It’ll be a nice way to segue into retirement, however long that may be.”