After City's football team defeated archrival Poly in the season finale at M&T Bank Stadium the past two years, City coach George Petrides considered retiring.
"I was thinking about it [in 2013] and one of my daughters talked me out of it. She said, 'How long have you been the head coach?' I said, 'Thirty-nine years,' and she said, 'Oh, you've got to do it at least 40,'" Petrides said with a laugh. "So I said, 'OK.'
"And I always wanted to finish with a win in the City-Poly game, so I kind of stretched it out for three years. After three straight wins, I didn't want to chance it any longer."
For a man who played for the Knights and never coached anywhere else, last November's thrilling 22-12 comeback win over Poly in the 126th edition of the rivalry put the perfect exclamation point on his career. He won his first City-Poly game as a player 50 years earlier.
In addition to wanting to go out with a win over Poly, Petrides, 66, said the timing was right in other ways, too.
"I'm getting older and just the wear and tear of everything. I still enjoy the game and I love preparing for it, but it's just the wear and tear. One of the biggest things is that it's my youngest child's last year in college. She [Aimee] plays volleyball at Frostburg and I want to be able to see most of her games this year," said the father of five.
The Baltimore Sun's All-Metro Coach of the Year in 1987 and 1991 after undefeated No. 1 seasons, Petrides finished his football coaching career 257-144-1. At the end of last season, only Good Counsel's Bob Milloy had more wins among active coaches, 392 in 45 years.
"George is one of the most respected coaches I know," said Bob Wade, who retired this summer as Baltimore City's coordinator of athletics.
"He's a tremendous teacher and I thought he did a good job of making various adjustments based on the student-athletes that he had. A lot of kids he would have liked to have had in his program he could not have because of City's high admissions standards and he always did a good job of adjusting to the talent level he had."
A low-key, old-school guy, Petrides liked a power football team with big players. But recently when the players weren't so big anymore, he scrapped the Wing-T for a spread offense that better suited their talents.
The new dean of Baltimore City football, 20-year Lake Clifton head coach James Monroe, spent a lot of time over the years talking with Petrides, especially at the pools they managed during the summers.
"George is good guy," Monroe said. "His concept of coaching and how he treated his kids and how he treated his program was one to model your program on — he was hard-working and the way he went at coaching and his dynamic of coaching with his Wing-T approach. It's difficult to lose the old guard because you lose stability, you lose a father figure and sometimes a counselor, because when you coach football, it's more than X's and O's. But he's not totally leaving the game, so he'll still be around."
Petrides handed the reins to his assistant, Daryl Wade, for offseason conditioning and summer responsibilities. but Petrides will continue to help out with the program and will remain City's athletic director. He said he hasn't decided whether he will continue to coach girls basketball.
Daryl Wade, The Sun's 2014 All-Metro Basketball Coach of the Year and Bob Wade's son, will continue to coach the Knights boys basketball team.
Petrides has spent 46 years at City, beginning with his freshman year of high school. After playing at Towson State, he returned as an assistant coach for two years, taking the top job after Ron Chartrand retired in 1975.
"It's been a privilege to coach at City College," Petrides said. "It's one of my all-time joys. I've loved every minute of it. I enjoyed working with the players and I've been blessed to have so many great coaches I've worked with. I just thought it was time that somebody younger take over, and Coach Wade was the person I thought could carry on our tradition."