Chris Haddock congratulates his team after a touchdown in a game last fall. (Will Newton/for The Washington Post)

After 26 years coaching high school football in Northern Virginia, Centreville Coach Chris Haddock is retiring, he announced to his team earlier this month.

Haddock has led the Wildcats for the last nine years, winning a Virginia state championship in 2013 to go with three region titles and one conference title. He had previous coaching stints at W.T. Woodson, Chantilly and Fairfax. He won another state title in 1996 as an assistant with the Chargers.

“It’s been a long, long time,” he said. “I haven’t had an August vacation since I was 13 years old, so I figured maybe it was about time and maybe I’ve earned it.”

Haddock will stay on at Centreville as the assistant director of student activities. The school is interviewing candidates for the head coaching position.

The Wildcats established themselves as a true local juggernaut in 2013. They went 15-0 and captured the Virginia Class 6 title, winning all of their games by three touchdowns or more. They finished No. 1 in The Washington Post’s year-end poll and received a national ranking. They also kicked off the 2014 season with a nationally televised game against WCAC powerhouse Gonzaga.

“That was a really great group of kids,” Haddock said. “It was really kind of a magical time. Everything just seemed to fall into place.”

Haddock had just two losing seasons in his time at Centreville, and he went 9-3 this past fall.

He said the most important aspect of his time in Clifton is the culture he established with his players, one that he described as family-like with an emphasis on discipline and personal responsibility.

“Football in many cases, and sports in general, are really kind of the last bastion of Americana,” he said. “It’s the last place where you can really affect young men and women and teach them real life skills that are often put aside in our society today.”

He said he has loved watching his former players go on to carve out a space for themselves in the world. Just recently, he asked one of them who had become a Navy SEAL to return and address the program.

“Stuff like that is what you do it for,” Haddock said. “It’s nice to win games and to win championships, but seeing kids go off and get married, get jobs and do things for themselves is really a special part of coaching.”