Sean Arno is leaving the Wellington Schools after accepting Elyria High School’s vacant head football coach position.
He will depart from both his jobs as Dukes football coach and Wellington High vice principal at the end of this school year.
In three years coaching the Dukes, he oversaw improvement from a 2-8 record in 2014 to 3-7 in 2015, and finally a 5-5 mark this past season — WHS’s first .500 season since 2011.
The 2016 Dukes were fifth in Lorain County in scoring at a 33.7 points per game clip, twice racked up 60 points in a game, and eclipsed 35 points six times.
He will replace Kevin Fell in Elyria, who resigned as coach after guiding the Pioneers to a 36-27 record and three playoff appearances in six seasons.
Arno said the opportunity in Elyria arose quickly and he was not actively seeking an exit from Wellington.
“This is a great community that’s very difficult to leave,” he said. “I’ve built great relationships with many, many people and it’s a very tough decision. I wasn’t looking for anything but this chance presented itself in a place where I’ve coached and where I already know people.”
He worked at Elyria High School from 1998 to 2003 as head freshman football coach and as a varsity assistant coach. Before coming to Wellington, he was head varsity coach at Alexander High School in Athens County for nine years.
“My wife grew up in Elyria and is teaching there now,” he said. “She lost her job in Wellington and moved over there right after that. There are a lot of things that just kind of fell in place. My kids were born in Elyria and it’s a comfortable place for us.”
When asked whether the Dukes’ quick improvement on the football field helped him stand out among other candidates for the Elyria job, Arno said he wasn’t sure.
“I’ve helped to build a couple of programs and we’ll continue to do the same thing next year,” he said. “I think we’re on track to do that. There’s a long history in Elyria and I’m honored to be here.”
He said he feels good about the state of Wellington High School both athletically and academically.
“We graduated some great kids this year,” he said. “Plus, 95 percent of that team is coming back next year. All the skill positions are coming back as is the majority of the offensive line and defense. These kids took their lumps as sophomores but now they’re all going to be seniors. We did a lot of great community service down at the stadium, cleaned up our locker room with some new carpet, and put a band wall in. When my wife took over the booster club, there was virtually nothing left in it, but there’s a lot of money there now.”
“I know our kids’ grade point averages have risen since I took over,” he said. “I feel very good about that and good about where I’m leaving it. My own coaches always told me to leave things better than you found it, and I feel like I definitely did that. I always tell kids, if you see a piece of paper on the ground, pick it up.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.