Mike Churchill knew the day was coming.
Late Tuesday night, it became official.
Churchill, who has guided the Laguna Beach High football program for the past two years, stepped down as its head coach. His replacement comes from the current varsity coaching staff: Corey Brown, who coached varsity quarterbacks and special teams personnel, and was head coach of the Laguna frosh/soph team, was appointed Tuesday as Churchill's successor.
Churchill, who took on the head coaching job after Jonathan Todd resigned at the end of the 2010 season, will remain as the school's athletic director.
"When Coach Todd left, we didn't really have anybody to fill the position, so I became tender of the team," Churchill said. "The whole idea was to get somebody in here to take over the position in the near future, and Corey Brown fits the part. He's been with our football program for three years and has been on campus for four years. The parents all like him and the kids love him. I'll do everything I can to help Corey out."
The Laguna position is the first head coaching job for the 27-year-old Brown.
"Representing this school, this community, and inspiring the kids to do well not just in football, but in the classroom, as well, is really an amazing opportunity for me," Brown said. "The support here on campus, from the administration and school board, has been so encouraging since they approved my becoming the new head coach on Tuesday. I've developed a rapport with the kids and parents these past few years and it makes it a lot less stressful to have all this support."
Under Churchill's direction the last two years, Laguna rose to become a league champion and CIF Southern Section contender. His first team, the 2011 squad, went 10-3 and reached the semifinal round of the Southern Division playoffs.
His final team, the 2012 group, won an outright Orange Coast League championship and again made it to the Southern Division semifinals.
Among the numerous individual and team program records the Breakers set over the past two years, this year's team won the most games (11) in a single season in school history.
"Coach 'Church' has had two of the most successful teams this school has ever had, and it's been great to be a part of this year's team, definitely my favorite season that I've had playing sports," said junior wide receiver/cornerback Jake Hexberg, a soccer and volleyball athlete at Laguna who went out for football for the first time this year. "Coach Brown, from what I experienced with him this year, is such an inspirational coach. He's all about getting everyone involved and knows how to bring a team together."
Churchill said that last spring, months before the start of the 2012 season, he "probably knew" he was going to retire after the season had ended.
"I had the chance to retire last year, but I didn't," he said. "I couldn't leave these kids, and I wanted to make sure that they had the season they deserved. They had worked so hard these past two years to earn what they achieved. I knew all along that I'd only be staying for a couple of years.
"I think my two years as head coach here, is special in this respect: nobody, two years ago, would have told you that football was important at Laguna Beach High. The kids on this team the past few years have made it special. The community was re-energized by their success, and alumni would call or e-mail me, telling me how great it was that Laguna football was relevant. That, to me, was the most rewarding."
In addition to taking over as head coach, Brown is currently the Transition Coordinator at Laguna Beach High, a position he has held at the school since 2009.
Raised in Merced, Brown was a three-sport athlete at Merced High and later started at quarterback at Fresno City College.
He said he was set to transfer to study and play at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, La., but said Hurricane Katrina, which ravaged the Gulf Coast on Aug. 29, 2005, altered his transfer plans.
Brown went on to receive his Bachelor of Arts degree in Liberal Studies with a concentration in History from Cal State University Stanislaus.
"You learn so much from good coaches, and Coach Churchill has done such a phenomenal job of teaching the kids at Laguna the game of football in every detail," Brown said. "It's really been insightful to work with Coach Churchill. I really value what he has passed on and I will work tirelessly to keep up the winning ways he has established here."