John Beck went 20-17 in four seasons at Grant, including 16-2 in the Portland Interscholastic League. (Photo by Mark Going)
John Beck went 20-17 in four seasons at Grant, including 16-2 in the Portland Interscholastic League. (Photo by Mark Going)

John Beck, who coached Grant's football team to a 16-2 record in the 6A Portland Interscholastic League the last four seasons, has resigned from the position.

“It was time for me to step away and get somebody new that will take them from not just winning the PIL title, but competing for a state championship,” Beck said.

Grant was the third head-coaching job for Beck. He went 28-7 in three seasons at 6A North Medford (2001-03), including a state runner-up finish in 2003. He coached 13 seasons at 5A Crater (2004-16), going 69-68 with four conference titles.

Beck's son, Brennick, played for him in his first three seasons at Grant. Beck opted to continue with the team after Brennick graduated.

“Once Brennick graduated, everybody thought I was going to be done,” Beck said. “Everybody goes, 'He was just seeing his son through.' Well, shoot, I worked so hard to get sports working underground with some of our legislators, I just go, 'I'll stay in it.'”

Beck went 20-17 overall at Grant, sharing the PIL title in 2018 and 2021 and winning it outright in 2019. The Generals lost in the first round in their three 6A playoff appearances under Beck.

They finished 5-6 last season (5-1 in the PIL) and shared the league title with Roosevelt, a team they beat 42-41 in double overtime. Grant lost at Lakeridge in the first round of the state playoffs.

Beck is proud of the impact he made in the program.

“We came in and doubled the participation numbers,” he said. “We put the program where it can compete with the better teams in the state. There's a lot of really good things that we did.

“We got a real booster club that now live-streams. The youth program was going to fold, so we resurrected that. Now it's healthy and thriving. We got some kids into colleges.”

Beck had high praise for the Grant community.

“Loved the kids, loved the parents,” he said. “Awesome parents. Top-notch, maybe some of the best of all-time.”

Beck, who teaches at Grant, said he is open to continue coaching, either as a head coach or an assistant.

“I've still got some juice left in the tank,” he said. “I still will be able to help in certain situations. If the need arises for somebody, I'd be more than happy to help them out.”

Grant had a promising start last season but was undone by COVID issues that left the team severely shorthanded for much of the second half of the season.

“That devastated us. We were rolling,” Beck said. “We had a lot of new parts, new quarterback, new everything. We felt like if COVID wouldn't have hit, we would have kept progressing.”

Standout junior running back Donald “Chili” Stephens missed the first three games with a foot injury and sat out two other games due to COVID tracing.

“It was just one thing after another, trying to right the ship,” Beck said.

Still, the Generals were competitive against strong teams. They trailed Clackamas by a touchdown at halftime before losing 48-14. In the playoffs against Lakeridge, they led 14-0 at half before falling 28-14.

With more than 20 players from the Class of 2023 eligible to return, Grant has high expectations for next season. The offensive line should come back mostly intact, and the Generals expect to have key starters return in Stephens and junior quarterback Kellen Segel.

“We're going to be pretty darn good next year,” Beck said.

Grant plans to post the job on the district website this week and intends to announce the hiring of a coach by the week of April 25, according to athletic director Odie Hollingshed.