Robby James retiring from Marengo Academy

Marengo Academy coach Robby James, pictured here while having "Happy Birthday" sung to him following a 2013 game, announced his retirement Wednesday.

Marengo Academy coach Robby James, pictured here while having “Happy Birthday” sung to him following a 2013 game, announced his retirement Wednesday.

Robby James talks with Tyler Barkley during the 2013 season, one week before the Longhorns won the Class A state championship game.

Robby James talks with Tyler Barkley during the 2013 season, one week before the Longhorns won the Class A state championship game.

Marengo Academy football coach and headmaster Robby James informed his players Wednesday that he has coached his last game.

“I wanted to tell them first. Your boys are just like your own kids,” James said in a phone interview Wednesday afternoon. “It’s always hard to do something like that. I’m leaving a good bunch of boys that’s going to have a great football team again. The headmaster part, I enjoy that. But my love is just coaching. It’s easy to say that you’re not coming back. When you walk in there and talk to 30 boys, it’s like telling your sons ‘I’m not coming back home.’”

James started his head coaching career in 1980 at Catherine Academy and walks away from the game with a record of 299-106-1.

“It’s not about records or anything. I never was in it to try to get 300 wins,” James said. “My whole thing was always trying to get the best out of guys. I felt like I was pretty good at doing that. Most guys played hard for me. I just remember the players, the guys that have been with me with all the teams.”

James coached his team to the AISA state finals 18 times, winning nine state championships along the way.

“Touchdowns and big plays, they’re good. But I just remember how the guys have grown and how they respond to what you try to do for them,” James said.

Robby and June James

Robby and June James

James spent six seasons atop the Longhorn program, going 39-30 with two state title game trips and the 2013 Class A championship. The Longhorns were 25-2 over the last two seasons, losing out to Edgewood in the state title game to punctuate the 2014 season.

“I turn 65 this year and I want to spend some time with my wife and my grandkids and be able to do some things. I’ve been coaching 40 years,” James said. “I’m still going to be around football, but I’m not looking to coach again.”

James will finish out the academic year as the headmaster of Marengo Academy and will assist with the football team’s offseason conditioning program while the board searches for his successor.

“I’m going to help them with whatever, whatever they need me to do,” James said. “I talked with the board and, hopefully, I’ll be able to help hire the next head coach. We’ve got a good bunch of boys and should have a good football team again.”