It was 3:05 p.m.
That’s the exact time on March 8 that Scotty Steen found out he was no longer the head football coach at Great Falls.
He remembered the time clearly because Great Falls’ football program is hugely important to Steen. He’s from the area, graduated from the school and coached there for 20 years before he became head coach in 2017.
But after a 2018 season that showed great promise, Steen said he was asked by school principal David Spencer to step aside last week.
“I’m a Great Falls boy,” Steen said. “Probably one of the worst things I’ve experienced in my life. I don’t know what else to say.”
Great Falls went 19 games -- including two whole seasons -- without a win, before Steen helped the Red Devils to a 4-6 record this past fall, including their first win over rival Lewisville in five years. But the Red Devils lost their final three games of the season -- all Region 2-A games -- by a combined 121-0 point total and missed the playoffs.
Spencer told a reporter that Steen offered to resign, then later said that the decision was mutual.
“He asked me to step aside, and, he’s the boss, so I did,” Steen said. He had just finished telling his players minutes before the phone call with a reporter on Tuesday afternoon. “That was tough, tougher than talking to the coaches about it. But I thank Mr. Spencer for the opportunity he gave me. I learned a lot, enjoyed it a great deal.”
Steen said that Spencer thanked him for helping Great Falls football through a tough time, but that they were headed in a different direction.
“Coach Steen has done a great job for us,” Spencer said on Wednesday afternoon. “He came in as a head coach during a difficult transition time, helped maintain our football program and we really appreciate everything he’s done for us, both as an assistant and as head coach.
“There just comes a time where there needs to be a different voice.”
Spencer said he’s already received around 15 resumes since the job was posted online earlier in the week. Great Falls is a unique project for the next head coach. The 1A classification school has long had issues with having enough players, a problem that really reared its head during the 19-game losing streak.
Steen said he was caught off guard by Spencer’s request. Steen is seven years from retirement, and he thought he had done the heavy lifting in getting the program back on solid footing.
“Whoever gets to coach these guys next year, they’re gonna be delighted. They’ve worked their butts off in spring so far,” Steen said. “Great Falls is gonna be back on the map, baby.”
Steen isn’t sure what he’ll do next. He was offered a teaching job and the head track and field coaching position at Great Falls. Teaching contracts go out in April so he has some time to figure out the next move.
“It’s not something I wanted, but at the same time, God’s got a plan,” Steen said.