After leading Aloha into state quarterfinals the past two seasons, Darren Bland is stepping down as the Warriors' varsity baseball coach to accept the same position at McMinnville High.

Bland said the decision to leave his alma mater wasn't any easy one, but that it was a family decision. His wife is expecting the couple's second child in mid-August and has family in the Corvallis area.

'It definitely tugged me back and forth for some time,' Bland said. 'It was a tough situation to leave, but we made those decisions based on family, not just baseball. This will get us closer to the family support during the crazy baseball seasons.'

Bland was Aloha's varsity centerfielder for three seasons before graduating in 1994. He attended Oregon State and Western Oregon.

In 2004 he took over an Aloha baseball program that hadn't been to the playoffs in 17 years and guided the Warriors there in his second season. Aloha reached the state quarterfinals the past two years, losing to West Salem in 2006 after taking fourth in the Metro League with a 12-6 record (23-7 overall).

The Warriors went 22-7 in 2005 with a 12-6 league mark. Bland's overall record in three seasons was 59-26 and 32-22 in Metro play.

'I feel good about the place I left the program with the facility upgrades and what they accomplished,' Bland said. 'As a former coach and player, I hope they will remain successful.'

Bland has also taken an English teaching position at McMinnville. The Grizzlies have been to the state playoffs the past four seasons.

'They do have a strong program and a strong history,' Bland said. 'I'm looking forward to working with them and continuing the success they had in the past.'

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