Despite winning more than 64 percent of his games over the past eight seasons, Brian Perkes will not return as the boys basketball coach at Mater Dei High School in Breese.
"He was very respectable in his winning percentage and his teams were well-prepared and competitive," Mater Dei Principal Dennis Litteken said Thursday. "Brian was 100 percent committed to the program and it's always tough to replace someone as committed as that. I think it's important that we note that he had eight successful years."
Perkes was hired as head coach in 2005, replacing Marvin Eversgerd. Perkes' teams were 153-85 in eight seasons, but the Knights failed to win a regional championship during that time.
They had three 20-win seasons under Perkes, including a 24-7 mark in 2006-07 and 25-4 in 2010-11. Mater Dei lost in the regional championship game four times in Perkes' eight seasons.
"I guess it was mutually agreed upon," was the only comment Perkes would make about the decision. "I feel proud of what we've accomplished and I'm walking out of here with my head held high. Certainly this was not the smoothest year in my coaching years and came with some distractions.
"This was a taxing year for me and there was some contemplation on my part about returning. When I was hired here, I wanted to give it 10 good years on the varsity level. I got eight in and sometimes when it's time, it's time -- and it's probably time."
Mater Dei's last basketball regional title was in 2001 under Dennis Trame and before that the Knights hadn't won one since finishing second at the 1996 Class A state tournament.
Only Trame (416-161 in 20 years) has a higher winning percentage than Perkes' in the school's history.
"That says a lot and he's a Mater Dei guy. We appreciate that loyalty," Litteken said of Perkes. "He's a Mater Dei graduate and played in our program, so he's part of our community. I don't think people should believe he's leaving on bad terms."
Mater Dei was a Class AA team in Perkes' first two years as a head coach, then because of the multiplier was moved up to 3A in the four-class playoff system.
Two years ago, they lost to eventual 2A state champion Central in the regional final. This season they lost to the Cougars in the regional semifinals.
"The 2011 team was about as talented a team that we've had here at Mater Dei," Perkes said of a 25-4 squad that lost 61-56 to the host Centralia Orphans in the regional final. "When we went back into 2A, we're in the same regional as Central, who's just been on a phenomenal run."
Litteken said the Mater Dei school board has formed a committee to seek a replacement.
"It's open to anyone and everyone that would like to be part of our mission," Litteken said. "We welcome all applicants."
Longtime Central High coach Stan Eagleson recently resigned. Like Perkes, Eagleson also found out how tough it was coaching in the Clinton County basketball hotbed.
Eagleson, whose team won the state title two years ago, went 12 seasons before winning his first regional title while watching other area schools, including Mater Dei, Carlyle, Wesclin and Nashville, enjoy more postseason success.
"I don't think it helped my situation that Central was being as successful as they were," Perkes said. "I think our people were frustrated from that standpoint, but there was no more pressure put on me from the outside than I put on myself trying to be successful to win games.
"I got to fulfill a dream job. This is something that I always wanted to do once I got into education was to come back and be the head coach at my alma mater. I knew there were a lot of outside pressures and I didn't go into it not knowing the situation."
Perkes already has his next coaching job lined up. He's planning to coach his daughter's sixth-grade basketball team at All Saints Academy in Breese.
"I'm looking forward to that and relaxing, where me and my wife are going to take a long overdue vacation to Jamaica," said Perkes, who also has been in remission after being diagnosed with nasal and larynx cancer five years ago. "I still go through testing and things of that nature, but it's been in remission and I keep my fingers crossed every time I go back."