PITTSFIELD, Ill. -- The wins and losses may not show it, but Curt Simonson believes the Pittsfield football program is in better shape than when he took over as the head coach for the 2014 season.
Simonson, 63, submitted his resignation to school officials in October, but it only recently was made public after the position was posted on job search sites.
"It's time for someone younger to do it," he said. "We're in a perfect position for a young coach to step in.
"Four years ago, I said I was happy to do this, but I wasn't looking to do it for 10 years. Two years later, someone said, ‘Hey, coach. How old is (Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator) Dick LeBeau?' I think he was 78. I wasn't planning on coaching into my 70s."
The Saukees were winless in nine games in the Sangamo Conference last fall, and Simonson's teams had a combined record of 5-31 during his four seasons. It's the fewest number of victories for Pittsfield in a four-year stretch since it went 8-22-4 from 1940-43.
Simonson said his first team had 38 players, and he expects at least 60 players to try out next year.
He also said when he returned to the team in 2014, some of the equipment was from the late 1970s. He created Saukee Football Nights, a raffle and auction that has raised $50,000 for the program.
"We've replaced uniforms, blocking dummies and cameras," Simonson said. "We've made major upgrades."
The next move, Simonson says, is for the team to be more competitive in the Sangamo, which has had a team play in a state championship game in each of the past four years.
"Is it about wins and losses? Sure it is," he said. "You also have to teach. We're building, and we're playing a lot of young kids, but we've kept those young kids together. In my mind, we're turning that corner as well."
Simonson coached the Saukees from 1982-93, and his teams had a 75-46 record and made seven state playoff appearances. His best season came in 1984 when Pittsfield went 10-2 and advanced to the Class 3A semifinals.
"You can't be a part of this program and not have it change your life," he said.
After leaving the sidelines, Simonson was the principal at Higbee Junior High School and Pikeland Community School. He became superintendent at Liberty in 2004 before becoming the superintendent in the Downs Tri-Valley district in 2008. For the past three years, he has worked a half-year as the superintendent of the Western School District in Barry.