South Caldwell football coach Marc Kirkpatrick is stepping down after four seasons at the helm.

The Spartans finished 3-3 in a season delayed until spring and shortened by COVID-19. The team earned a berth in the 4A playoffs, where it lost in the first round to Durham Hillside.

Kirkpatrick’s tenure has been marked by steady improvement. He inherited a team that went 2-9 the season before he took over; the Spartans went 1-11 in Kirkpatrick’s first season and 3-8 in his second.

In 2019, South Caldwell was 4-8 and made the playoffs. This past season, the Spartans went 3-1 in the Northwest 3A/4A and took the conference’s 4A sole playoff berth.

Kirkpatrick, 55, said he just felt like it was time to retire, and he feels like South Caldwell’s football fortunes will continue to rise.

“I feel I am leaving the program as head coach in a lot better shape than I started with,” he said. “Tough decision, but (it’s) the right time for my family and I.”

Kirkpatrick said one of the things he’s looking forward to the most is taking a summer vacation that doesn’t fall on the week of July 4th.

In his four seasons as head coach, the Spartans compiled a record of 11-30 and made three trips to the state playoffs.

In a statement released Friday morning, South Caldwell Athletics Director Jeff Parham said the school is grateful for Kirkpatrick’s 22 years of service to the football team.

“Throughout his time with our program, Kirkpatrick has always a consummate professional in teaching players both the game of football, but more importantly, lifelong lessons that they will carry with them the rest of their lives,” the statement read.

The school said in the release it will soon begin the process of selecting its next head football coach and hopes to reach a decision fairly quickly as to who will lead the Spartans when they return to the field in August.