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Chris Tormey, longtime Washington Huskies assistant football coach and a head college coach for nine years, is going back to high school. Tormey, 59, has accepted the head-coaching job at South Whidbey, a Class 1A high school of 500 students in Langley.

Tormey hasn’t coached at the high-school level since 1979-80, when he was a 23-year-old assistant at his alma mater, Gonzaga Prep of Spokane. He coached 18 years at UW in three different stints, was Idaho’s head coach for five years and Nevada’s for four. Tormey was fired as Wyoming’s defensive coordinator last season, and was still searching for a college job when he applied at South Whidbey. He interviewed at Old Dominion on Monday, but pulled out of the running for that position to say yes to South Whidbey.

He and his wife Kellie recently bought a home on Whidbey Island.

“It’s a great community,” Tormey said by phone. “I enjoy the lifestyle. And high-school football is a tremendous opportunity to create a legacy. … It’s a little bit different ethos than in college. Kids aren’t on scholarship. It’s football at its purest.”

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SW athletic director Kelly Kirk said he was stunned when Tormey sent an email expressing interest. He called and quickly got to the point: “Are you the Chris Tormey who coached at the UW and Idaho?”

His next question: “OK, so why do you want this?”

Convinced that Tormey was interested for the right reasons, he hired him to replace Mark Hodson, who resigned after 14 years following a 6-4 season. Tormey will teach part time until a full-time position opens.

“It’s a chance to take a step back ,” Tormey said, “and have some fun.”

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