DU QUOIN -- In a rather stunning development, it was learned Wednesday that Du Quoin High School head football coach -- Austin (AJ) Hill -- is resigning his position and moving to the Springfield area before the next school year.
The 28-year-old Hill compiled a 27-15 record in four seasons at the Indians' leader with four state playoff appearances, including a quarterfinal-round appearance in 2016 when the Tribe finished 9-3 overall.
Because he has yet to be hired by his soon-to-be new employer and because his resignation has yet to be formally accepted by the Du Quoin School Board, Hill chose not to elaborate much on his status.
"All I can say right now is that I plan to teach at a school that does not offer football, but serve as an assistant coach at another school nearby," said Hill. "I'm still relatively young, so I feel I can learn a lot from an experienced coach."
Hill has taught history and special education at DHS.
Hill said he can't begin to thank the people of the community enough for supporting him both as a player and coach over the years.
"Du Quoin is just a wonderful place to grow up and live," he said. 'But for those people who really know me, this decision won't be all that surprising to them. I made this decision for what I feel is best for my family and me. But it will be tough to leave here.
"I am so thankful to have the opportunity to play and coach here. I wish I could have done more, but I am proud of what we accomplished these last four years and believe I am leaving the program in good shape. There are six or seven kids on both sides of the ball who will be back next year. I am confident the Indians will have a big year."
DHS Athletic Director Derek Beard, who also works on the football staff, confirmed that Hill had already told his players of his decision.
"We are definitely grateful for AJ's time in Du Quoin," Beard said. "We hate to see him go. AJ and I have developed a friendship over the last five years. His friendship means a lot to me. But this is something that he wanted to do for his family. We appreciate his service and what he did for the kids on our football team."
Beard said once Hill's resignation is accepted by the board, a search will commence for his replacement.