LOWELL -- It is the season of change for head football coaches in the Merrimack Valley Conference.
Dave Kaizer of Chelmsford High and Jay Rivers of Dracut High have stepped down from their respective head football coaching positions.
Rivers made the decision to step down from the Middies program in December. This fall, Rivers guided Dracut to a 5-5 record and the semifinals of the MIAA Division 4 North Tournament. In a Division 4 North quarterfinal, Dracut defeated No. 1 seed and unbeaten Marblehead in one of the biggest upsets of the postseason.
"I loved my time there," said Rivers. "I love those kids. It was hard to step away. It's such a great group of kids. We had a great season. We didn't get where we wanted to go this season, but I wouldn't have changed anything. I will always love being able to say, 'I was their coach.'"
Rivers was Dracut's head coach for five seasons. He also coached the Middies to a berth in the Division 4 North playoffs in 2017.
Rivers is an elementary physical education teacher in Dracut's school system. His son, Jakob, is a standout junior receiver/kick returner/defensive back for the Middies. Rivers was named the MVC Div. 2 and Sun Coach of the Year in 2016.
"He's been great," said Dracut athletic director Trevor Blanchet. "This was a great season. He'll be missed, definitely."
The position is still in the process of being posted.
"We would like to hire someone as soon as possible," said Blanchet. "The interview process will take a few weeks. So as soon as we can do a full and thorough search, we will get a new head coach."
Kaizer announced he was leaving Chelmsford on Tuesday. He has been the Lions head coach for three seasons. This fall, Chelmsford was 3-8, but the Lions ended the campaign on a high note, knocking off arch-rival Billerica, 6-0, on Thanksgiving.
Kaizer injured his patellar tendon during the season and had to have surgery.
Kaizer guided Chelmsford to MIAA playoff berths in 2017 and 2016. In 2017, the Lions defeated Newton South, 47-14, in a Division 2 North quarterfinal, and pushed North Andover to the limit in the semifinals before losing, 35-33. Chelmsford advanced to the semifinals of the Division 1A North semifinals in 2016, where the Lions lost to Reading.
Prior to taking over Chelmsford's program, Kaizer coached at the collegiate level, serving as an assistant at Nichols, WPI, Assumption and Worcester State.
"Coaching at Chelmsford is something I will never forget," said Kaizer. "The relationships that were built on the field and off mean more than any score on a scoreboard. The number of phone calls and texts I have received today shows that my time coaching here meant something to not only me, but to the players who I've had the luxury of coaching, as well.
"I appreciate the coaches who helped build this foundation with me, who believed in me as much as I believed in them, and who faithfully stood by my side. That's why we coach this great game."
Follow Carmine Frongillo on Twitter @cwfrongi