The season the Minooka football team enjoyed in the fall under Terry McCombs, who was in his first season at the school, was nothing short of remarkable.
The Indians finished 9-3 in a storied run that ended with a 28-25 loss at Edwardsville in the Class 8A state quarterfinals.
After that game, however, McCombs, who is 70, entered the hospital for a week with heart issues and that caused him to resign his position as head coach. The Minooka school board accepted his resignation Thursday evening.
“Primarily a health issue,” he explained his decision. “The cold, windy weather, especially later in the season if we’re going to be in the playoffs, is not good for me. And it’s not good for the leader to tell his assistants and players, ‘You stay out there in these conditions, I’m going inside.’”
However, McCombs, who lives in Shorewood, said his heart “is getting better,” and he would love to stay at Minooka as an assistant, should the new head coach want him.
“From an egotistical standpoint, I have coached for 48 years,” he said. “I would like to get to 50. I already have an offer to go to Downers Grove South, but I told them I want to wait and see what happens at Minooka.”
During the season, McCombs received a Papa John’s Bears High School Coach of the Week award.
“This was really an unbelievable year that we had,” he said. “The kids bought in even with half the varsity staff being brand new. It was a great experience. Our sophomores were undefeated. They are now averaging 50 kids a day in the weight room. Everything is working exactly as we would have wanted.”
In fact, McCombs said he feels that if Minooka had played Edwardsville 10 times, “we probably would win half of them. Unfortunately, the one game that counted, we lost. We had a couple starters out and we did not have the replacements coached well enough.”
Athletic director Bob Tyrell said, “Terry brought a wealth of experience and did a great job. The kids really bought in.”
As for a new head coach, Tyrell said, “We’ve got some good guys internally to begin with, but we will take all applicants. We want to get the best coach possible, and we want to do it as quickly as possible to let the kids know where we are. The kids are lifting and we’re getting ready for summer camps already.”
McCombs said he has “some strong feelings” about a successor “and I shared them with Bob [Tyrell]. However, I should have nothing to say about it. That is entirely up to the administration.”