Rodney Stidham football 2010

Rodney Stidham (left, holding hat) guided Hamilton to a Class 3A runner-up finish in 2010. Stidham is stepping down as head coach due to health issues but will stay with the team as an assistant coach. [TIMESDAILY FILE]

One of the longest-tenured head football coaches in the Shoals is making a change.

Rodney Stidham said Monday he has resigned as Hamilton High’s head football coach to take care of health issues he described as “nothing life-threatening.”

He will remain on staff as an assistant.

“I decided that it was time I needed to take care of myself,” Stidham said Monday. “I knew the commitment to be the head coach was simply something I could not do.”

Barry Peoples, Stidham's longtime offensive coordinator, is Hamilton's interim head coach.

A 1985 graduate of Hamilton who has known Stidham for years, Peoples was the head football coach at Marion County before joining Stidham’s staff at Hamilton.

Stidham took over at Hamilton in 2005. He went 113-59 at Hamilton and led the Aggies to 11 playoff appearances in 15 seasons. He is the winningest coach in program history.

The Aggies were 8-3 last year with a loss to Guntersville in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs. It snapped a three-year playoff drought.

“It was time for me to slow down as far as my body,” Stidham said. “I love coaching football but sometimes life changes on you and you’ve got to adjust.”

Stidham graduated from Hamilton in 1986. He said when he took the head coaching job he wanted to coach the Aggies at least 10 years or win at least 100 games. He accomplished both.

“God has blessed me so much to be able to have done that,” Stidham said.

Stidham also coached Vina in 1996.

“It’s not out of the realm (of possibility) I’ll try to be a head coach again,” Stidham said. “It’s just not going to be this year.”

Hamilton won region titles in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012. The Aggies went undefeated in the regular season three times.

Their best season was 2010, when they went 14-1 with a 42-32 loss to Leeds in the Class 3A state championship game. That is the only time the Aggies have played for a state football championship. That team averaged 40.5 points per game, which is a school record, according to the Alabama High School Football Historical Society.

Hamilton has spent time in 3A, 4A and 5A during Stidham's time there. The Aggies were in Class 5A the last two years but are moving back to 4A this fall.

“This was truly his dream job,” Peoples said of Stidham.

Peoples said Stidham will be tough to replace given his influence on the team’s success.

“The biggest thing has been Coach Stidham’s leadership ability,” Peoples said.

Stidham said he’ll work as a mentor to some of the team’s younger coaches, and he complimented them for their passion.

Stidham said Hamilton football had a family atmosphere when he played there, and he and his staff tried to keep that in place.

“It worked for us,” Stidham said.

Contact Craig at Craig.Thomas@TimesDaily.com. Follow him on Twitter: @TD_CraigThomas

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