Hillsboro varsity football Head Coach Jack O’Rourke was selected by the Ohio Prep Sports Writers Association as the Division III Coach of the Year after leading the Indians to a 9-2 record, a share of the Frontier Athletic Conference championship, and the program’s first playoff appearance since 2005.
O’Rourke, who has more than 33 years of head coaching experience under his belt, is still in disbelief over the honor more than a week later.
“I was shocked and still am shocked,” O’Rourke told The Times-Gazette.
The Indians coach said that the key to success for Hillsboro and how they have been able to right the ship so quickly under him is that they do not rely on one individual.
“I think that the biggest thing we have emphasized for our success is just the team factor,” said O’Rourke. “We don’t depend on one individual, everyone is very important. We work very hard on offense and what we do. The fact that we don’t rely on one running back and things like that, we spread the ball around to different guys and so on.”
“Our offensive line has improved every year for the last three years and that has been important to,” said O’Rourke.
When asked what has contributed to the short turnaround at Hillsboro O’Rourke did not hesitate when he said, “Some of it is just the talent level, we have had some pretty good talent over the last few years. The kids that are graduating this year have been with us for three years and were really getting playing time the first year. When you get a lot of playing time as a sophomore by your junior year you are just more experienced and that helped a great deal.”
O’Rourke pointed to his coaching staff and players when asked what it means to be named the coach of the year.
“What it means for me is I had a very good coaching staff and very good players,” O’Rourke told The Times-Gazette. “It’s an honor and I don’t take it lightly or anything like that. But, I know without my players and without my coaching staff and how had they worked the last three years it wouldn’t be possible.”
“I’m just the figurehead as the leader, CEO or whatever you want to call me,” said O’Rourke. “Basically everybody has contributed to that and I just appreciate getting the honor.”
Since O’Rourke took over as head coach of the Indians at the start of the 2016 season Hillsboro has improved every year from 4-6 in year one to 7-3 a year ago and 9-2 in 2018 as well as Hillsboro’s first playoff appearance since 2005.
Ryan Applegate is the sports editor for The Times-Gazette. Reach Ryan Applegate at 937-402-2572, or on Twitter @RCApplegate89.