Gig Harbor football coach George Fairhart resigns

Posted on January 19th, 2022 By:

George Fairhart, one of the state’s winningest high school football coaches, is leaving Gig Harbor after five seasons.

Fairhart, 60, guided the Tides to a 26-18 mark. Before arriving in Gig Harbor, he won 169 games in 24 years at Eatonville and qualified for postseason 13 times. He began his coaching career at Friday Harbor.

Fairhart is 198-110 overall in 31 seasons and might have eclipsed the 200-victory milestone had COVID-19 not postponed the 2020 campaign until Winter 2021, when the Tides played just four games.

Fairhart earned a lifetime achievement award from the Washington State Coaches Association in 2017. He was unavailable Wednesday to confirm whether he intends to continue coaching.

Gig Harbor football coach Fairhart encourages quarterback Will Landram.

Gig Harbor football coach George Fairhart encourages quarterback Will Landram. Photo courtesy of Christi Adams

Tides Athletic Director Bob Werner, who hired Fairhart in March 2017, described the resignation as a surprise, and said the coach explained it “in a very classy way that was typical of his style.” Fairhart often drove from his home in the Cascade foothills town of Morton to Gig Harbor, which influenced his decision, Werner said.

Werner hopes that Fairhart hasn’t coached his final game.

“It would be extremely sad if this is his last coaching job,” he said. “I know he is close to some coaching milestones, and if this is his last time to coach, he has had a tremendous career.”

Gig Harbor High will search for Fairhart’s replacement among top candidates inside and outside the program, beginning now.

“There are four other high school head coaching positions open locally right now, so there will be a lot of competition,” the AD said. “We are ready to find the best coach for Gig Harbor and are fortunate to have a couple coaches on our own staff currently that have done a tremendous job and will be in consideration. But certainly, we will be interviewing and looking for all the best candidates from outside the program as well.”

The new head coach must possess a passion to succeed, Werner said.

“I’m looking for someone that has energy. I want a coach with maturity and strong leadership ability, somebody that understands their strengths and weaknesses, and possesses very strong communication skills,” he said.

Gig Harbor Coach George Fairhart talks to left tackle Nic Fortney.

Gig Harbor football coach George Fairhart talks to left tackle Nic Fortney. Photo courtesy of Christi Adams

Gig Harbor offers a prime opportunity for a football coach, with a supportive athletic director, administration and parents, and a successful sports tradition. The area boasts thriving youth tackle and flag football leagues, and skilled players already in the high school program. Among them is junior quarterback and captain Will Landram, who said Fairhart kept him focused.

“I felt like he was a good coach for me,” he said. “He helped me to get my mind straight, to focus on every play and was always talking to me about being able to pick up my teammates when needed.”

Fairhart’s departure will be a shock to the Tides, but Landram, an all-South Sound 3A Conference standout, believes they’ll persevere.

“I think it will be rough at first, but we’ve got a good group of guys that will pick it up and keep going for the new coach,” said Landram, who’ll be an enticing asset to a new coach after throwing for 2,362 yards with 23 touchdowns against only seven interceptions.

Another player who will be attractive to a new coach is the team’s most valuable lineman, junior Nic Fortney, who said Fairhart kept a good emotional balance.

“He definitely knew when to get serious and he also knew when it was time to have fun,” said Fortney, a 6-foot, 1-inch, 265-pound wrecking ball at defensive end and left tackle.

Fortney believes the new coach will inherit a good situation.

“We have a shot at the league title and the playoffs for sure,” he said of next year’s squad. “We have 10 to 12 returning starters and a lot of other players that have been in the program for years that are ready to step up.”