Saying it’s time to be around his three young sons more, Hillsboro High School football coach Matt Hodge announced Tuesday that he will not be returning as coach next season.
Hodge met with his football players just prior to the school making the announcement public.
“It’s a family decision,” Hodge said. “I have a newborn baby (and two other sons ages 6 and 12). I look at my wife’s schedule and my schedule with football and it’s just not fair to leave them with a babysitter for 10 to 12 hours a day. I have three boys and an amazing wife who supported me all the way and it’s time for me to give back a little there.”
Hodge’s Hillsboro teams were a combined 7-23 in three seasons, but he did not inherit an ideal situation. Hillsboro football had went 2-8, 2-8 and then 0-10 the year before Hodge was hired.
He coached seven years at his alma mater, East Clinton, posting a 38-34 record before making the move to Hillsboro.
Hodge said it’s the relationships with the kids and coaches that he will miss most. He also said there are no kids he will miss more than others.
“From day one I demanded a lot from these kids and they never shied away a bit,” Hodge said.
“It’s a total team effort,” he added. “Whether a kid was a star or never played a down, I will cherish all those relationships.”
Hillsboro Athletic Director Dave Dietrick said the search for a new coach would start immediately. In fact, he said, the job would be posted with the Ohio High School Athletic Association within a half hour of the time the official announcement was made. Dietrick said applications will likely be accepted for two to three weeks beginning sometime this month and that ideally he’d like to have a new coach hired by June.
Dietrick said Hodge informed him Tuesday morning that he had decided not to continue coaching.
“We want to thank coach Hodge for all his passion and effort the past three seasons as our football coach,” Dietrick said in a prepared statement. “The Hillsboro athletic family is going to miss Matt working with our athletes and for being a very meaningful part of our entire athletic department. Coach Hodge has provided exceptional leadership to the young men in our football program.”
A 1997 East Clinton graduate, Hodge played football there and at Otterbein University. He coached at Gahanna Lincoln for two years then was an assistant at East Clinton for three years before becoming the head coach. He said he’s not sure how he’ll feel when summer and autumn roll around this year.
“That’s going to be a new feeling to not be getting ready for two-a-days. I’m sure it will be a strange world,” Hodge said.
An eighth grade special education teacher, Hodge said he does not have any other position lined up and plans to remain a teacher at Hillsboro.
He said he wanted to thank the school administration, parents, community members and businesses that supported the program.
“I want thank the parents and the kids because I know football takes a lot of time,” Hodge said. “I want to thank them for the time they put into the football program, and into their kids.
“… We start lifting 30 days after the season is over, so in order to be competitive it’s got be a year around job.”
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.