Rutherford has served as head coach of both the boys and girls programs since 2013. He led the girls to back-to-back state tournament appearances in 2013 and 2014 and the Dobyns-Bennett boys to the state tournament in 2016 and 2018.
“I still have the passion for the game and I love the day-to-day coaching, being around the kids,” Rutherford said. “The friendships and all that I’m going to miss. This is just an opportunity for the betterment of our family. That’s why this decision was made and not made lightly.”
Longtime assistant Tony Weaver will serve as the interim coach as the job is posted and the school goes through the interview process. Dobyns-Bennett athletic director Larry Shively had high praise for Rutherford and the job he has done. Counting his time as an Indians assistant, Rutherford has served as a D-B coach for more than a decade.
“We’re grateful for his service,” Shively said. “He has a passion for the game of soccer and it showed every day. When I watched practice and the games, you could see the kids competing, playing hard and there was always a plan. You never walked away feeling we were outcoached. Blake did a good job, and the times we were outmanned, he would make up for it with his strategy and coaching tactics. We’re going to miss him.”
Rutherford leaves at a time when the boys soccer program is coming off a 19-1-2 season with the only loss coming in the 2018 state tournament against Blackman. Knowing the team could compete for a state berth again and the girls team will also be a league favorite in 2019 made it a more difficult decision. Rutherford believes the program will continue to be successful, even in his absence.
“I told the boys today just because you remove the belts from a motor doesn’t mean the motor still can’t run,” he said. “They have the foundation from a great team last year to still be successful. Whoever comes and does the job will have success because there is a great group of young men with leaders from the senior and junior classes.
“That was one of the negatives of moving on now that I didn’t get to stay in the saddle and finish the ride with them. I think this team will be favored going into the preseason, and we also have a great group of young ladies coming back. It’s a shame we didn’t get to finish it out, but the timing makes it where we couldn’t right now.”
It was an emotional time for coach and players as he broke the news. Rutherford said the decision was ultimately about his young family, although his relationships with the players made it an extremely difficult decision.