Thirteen years ago, Ted LePage helped guide the Blair Oaks Falcons to the Class 2 state football championship. Two years later, he decided to take on the challenge and expectations of coaching the Jefferson City Jays.
It began with three district championships and two Class 6 state semifinal appearances in the first four years. It ended with a 3-7 season, the first losing record for the Jays since 2002.
LePage made it official Sunday evening during the team's banquet, announcing his resignation after 12 seasons with the Jays.
"I was raised by my mom and dad to never look back," LePage said Monday. "Every day you move forward and I am very glad I made that decision (to coach Jefferson City). I got to be around some really tremendous student-athletes. I got to be around some really tremendous booster club members. The opportunity to be at the Class 6 level was just something I couldn't pass up at that time and it was a good move for me and my family."
The resignation coincides with LePage no longer having family attending Jefferson City High School.
LePage's youngest daughter Tori will graduate in the spring. Tayler LePage is a sophomore at Missouri Southern, where she is a forward for the women's soccer team. Thomas LePage just completed his senior season as a quarterback at Pittsburg State.
"For me to have a family unit that's so successful is really a shining moment of mine because it's hard to be husband, dad and coach," LePage said. "But I think I managed all those things very well. I'm proud of my family because family is all you've got."
Thomas was an all-state quarterback for the Jays in 2012.
"The best experience of my life and the worst experience of my life," LePage said. "The best experience because he's one of the best individuals I've ever coached. Cognitively, athletically and personally fun to be around. The worst because of the outside noise that came from coaching your own son."
Outside noise comes with the job. Like the expectations for a program that's won 10 state championships and has made 23 state semifinal appearances.
"Expectations come from the person and my expectations every day are to get young people to do things that they don't think they can do," LePage said. "Academically, athletically and as citizenship. Those are challenges every day."
The four pillars of Jays football — discipline, toughness, effort and honor — were important to LePage. After practices, players were asked to give an example of each pillar.
"Getting to watch that growth, as athletes begin to grow as people, that's the most rewarding part of your job," LePage said.
But ultimately, winning is expected for Jays football.
In the four seasons before LePage became head coach, the Jays won 47.5 percent of their games. In the 12 seasons with LePage, the Jays won more than 65 percent of their games.
But the wins didn't come much this past season, which ended with a loss in the district semifinals at Blue Springs by 23 points, matching the average margin in the defeats in 2017.
LePage isn't focusing on the losses, he's reminiscing in the way the players responded to the struggles.
"The best season I've had," LePage said. "Our players were outstanding. It was more rewarding because every week our players would get a kick in the gut, be on their knees and hop back up by Saturday morning or Monday morning and be ready to go back to work against the toughest schedule in the state. I've never had a team that was as resilient as this team of coming and bringing their best every week."
The players got a chance to show their support during Sunday's banquet.
"It was a very warm reception from all the players and parents," LePage said. "I was very overwhelmed with the outpouring of love and support from all of the players and all of my coaches and all the parents."
As for what's next, LePage didn't indicate what's in his future.
"Right now, take a couple weeks and breathe," LePage said.