Former Bret Harte football head coach Scott Edwards says questions surrounding the future of his teaching position at the Angels Camp school prompted him to accept a job offer from University of Mary in Bismarck, N.D.

Edwards will serve as offensive coordinator/offensive line coach for the University of Mary football team, a position he had already filled for a time before he returned to Angels Camp in 2006.

Edwards expressed his reluctance to resign from Bret Harte in a letter addressed to both the high school and members of the community, which he distributed via e-mail on Thursday.

"I am grateful that I found a job, and yes, I am excited about the opportunity and the new challenges ahead," Edwards wrote. "But, as well, I want it to be known that I would have never left home had I not been forced into this situation."

Edwards' family moved to Angels Camp in 1973 before his first birthday, and his mother taught and coached volleyball and tennis at Bret Harte beginning in 1978.

"As a coach's child, I think it's safe to say that Bret Harte became my home at a very early age," Edwards wrote in the letter.

After Edwards' parents divorced when he was 10, he said that he found support from the community and remained in the area until he graduated and went to college in 1990.

Edwards returned in 2006 after being asked if he would be interested in coaching at Bret Harte after spending years as a college coach, including the stint at University of Mary.

"It was a no-brainer," Edward wrote. "Angie (Edwards' wife) had just given birth to our first child, and the thought of raising my family in the same community that had given so much to me was a very uplifting decision.

"This community once again embraced my family, and for that, we will forever be grateful."

Since Edwards took over head coaching duties at Bret Harte in 2006, the Bullfrog gridders have amassed a 24-47 overall record over seven seasons. He said concern over looming budget cuts that posed a threat to his teaching position at the school prompted him to begin looking for other job openings.

"It's sad and it's painful and it hurts," Edwards said via telephone Thursday, regarding his departure from Bret Harte. "However, I couldn't risk looking at my family at the dinner table come June or July and saying, 'Now what?'"

Edwards has already started his new role, traveling more than 1,200 miles Monday through Wednesday this week scouting junior colleges in the region for recruits. He first interviewed for the job only two weeks ago.

"I came back from that last Monday and we kind of started laying out the process," Edwards explained. "We had talks with administration, but we all knew this day was coming and were just waiting for the phone call.My last day of class was that Wednesday and I turned in my keys Friday. So I think it just stunned everybody. These changes and moves in the college game happen abruptly."

Edwards said his wife and two children, Logan, 7, and Brenna, 5, will remain in Angels Camp until around June when they plan on moving to North Dakota.

"That's all part of the stressor," he said of being away from his family. "Angie and I have made moves due to football about five or six times, but the children have never been involved so this is the first time that major factor has been thrown into the equation.

"But if I'm going to have to leave them for a period of time, I couldn't ask for a better community to leave them in and know they'll be in good hands with friends," he said.

University of Mary also includes former Mother Lode League athletes Zach Roberson, who graduated from Summerville and started several games at the North Dakota college last season as a backup quarterback, along with Calaveras grads Gary Gellerman and Scott Maldonado.

Edwards said he looks forward to seeing the local guys and will keep an eye on the MLL for potential recruits.

"I'll always consider this home, so I'll be back here looking for more guys because I feel they would be a good fit at the school," he said. "We've had several guys out there from within our district who have had great success."

And there are no hard feelings from others within the Bret Harte community regarding Edwards' resignation.

Bret Harte athletic director Heath Lane praised Edwards for his work over seven seasons as the Bullfrogs' head football coach and said he'll be missed.

"He was an outstanding role model for our students," Lane said. "I know our wins and losses weren't what he wanted them to be, but what he did on and off the field was really great for these kids. I know he was sad to go, but he wanted to do what was best for his family and couldn't wait to see what was going to happen with all the budget cuts."