After the best season the Ironwood Ridge football program has ever had, football coach Gary Minor has decided to step down.
Minor turned in his resignation on Monday.
“I think that I need a break,” said Minor, who will continue teaching a full academic load at the school.
Football has become a year-round job, leaving little time for family. Minor, whose daughter will be a senior at the University of Notre Dame next year, hopes to spend a football weekend with her in the Fall in South Bend, Ind., He also hopes to spend a weekend watching former Nighthawk Ryan Crawford play for South Dakota State, where he is a fifth-year senior. Crawford was the first quarterback Minor coached at Ironwood Ridge.
In eight seasons at Ironwood Ridge, Minor posted a 60-27 record. Last fall, the Nighthawks went 10-3 before falling in the Class 5A Division II semifinals to eventual state champion Peoria Centennial.
On Feb. 4, Minor watched eight seniors from his 2008 team sign national letters of intent to accept college scholarships.
Minor said the longer into the offseason he put off the decision, the harder it was becoming to step down.
“I had made my mind up coming into the season that it would be my last season, but when I didn’t resign right after the season in January, I started to have second thoughts and almost changed my mind,” Minor said. “It’s hard to step away from something that has been such a part of my life as being coach here at this school and in this community, but I made the move anyway.”
Minor helped start the Ironwood Ridge program from scratch in 2001.
Losing the only football coach the school has ever known is something the administration realizes is a big loss.
“While Gary will stay on to teach, his influence as our head football coach and the contributions he has made will be missed,” Ironwood Ridge Athletic Director Will Kreamer said in an e-mail Tuesday. “Gary has been the only football coach at Ironwood Ridge since its inception and he has built the program into a state power.
“Our kids have the work ethic and expectations that all top-level programs have and our goal is to do an exhaustive search to find a coach who will measure up to the standards that Gary has established at Ironwood Ridge.”
For more on high school sports, check out the Grammer School sports blog.