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Originally published Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 11:21 PM

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Oaks Christian football coach Bill Redell retires

The coach turns 71 next month, and though Redell was expected to coach for two more seasons, he changed his mind and resigned Wednesday.

Los Angeles Daily News

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WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. — Among California's most successful high school coaches, Bill Redell has called it a day.

The Oaks Christian High coach turns 71 next month, and though Redell was expected to coach for two more seasons, he changed his mind and resigned Wednesday.

"I just figured it was time. There were a few tears, a few hugs with the players," Redell said. "I got a little choked up. But then again, I once cried at a Bambi cartoon. I've just seen guys hang on too long. We've got a really good team coming back, and no one is mad at me, and I'm not mad at anyone.

"It's just a situation where the football team is in a good place, and now it's time to go."

As the private Westlake Village school's founding coach, Redell won seven section championships at Oaks Christian — including a Southern Section-record six in a row — along with one state championship in 12 seasons, preceded by successful stints at Crespi in Encino and St. Francis in La Caqada Flintridge.

Redell finishes with a 233-65-3 overall record for a .778 winning percentage, including an 11-3 record last season, as Oaks Christian finished as the Southern Section Northern Division runner-up.

Oaks Christian athletic director Jan Hethcock, who is Redell's best friend, was shocked by the decision.

"I told him he couldn't quit, that we had just talked about plans for the next two years, but Bill just told me that the school had been great to him but it was time to go."

Redell, who has three sons, said part of the reason he is leaving is to spend more time with his grandchildren.

Among Redell's biggest rivals is Westlake coach Jim Benkert. But they're also close friends, having coached together at Crespi when Redell's Celts won the 1986 Big Five championship — the only time a San Fernando Valley school has won a title in the Southern Section's top division.

"I'm sad about this," Benkert said. "I started coaching because of Bill Redell. He gave me my first job. We're losing a great football coach in the community and in the coaching fraternity. We always had a great rivalry, and I have appreciated and loved every part of it. I know it's a tough decision for Bill Redell, and I love him and I'm there for him."

With a winning tradition plus a constant flow of television coverage, deep financial backing (including a reported six-figure salary) and frequent sellout crowds of 7,000, the Oaks Christian job is among the nation's most coveted coaching positions at the high school level.

Among the candidates expected to be given strong consideration are offensive coordinator Casey Clausen and defensive coordinator Mark Bates.

Clausen is the oldest of three brothers. Jimmy, the youngest, is an Oaks Christian alum who plays in the NFL, and middle son Rick is a fellow Oaks Christian assistant.

Before his coaching days, Redell was a college All-American at Occidental after transferring from USC, and he was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams and Denver Broncos. He played six years in the Canadian Football League, earning All-Pro honors. He also played in the Grey Cup Championship in 1967.

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