Jack O'Rourke speaks with members of the Hillsboro football team during the 2021 season. (HCP Photo/Stephen Forsha)
Jack O'Rourke speaks with members of the Hillsboro football team during the 2021 season. (HCP Photo/Stephen Forsha)

The Hillsboro Indians will have a new head football coach next year, as Jack O’Rourke officially resigned from the position this week.

O’Rourke was hired to be the Indians’ head football coach in 2016. Two years later, he led the Indians to a playoff berth and a co-Frontier Athletic Conference championship — shared with Jackson — which was Hillsboro’s first conference championship in football since 1998 and 10th conference title overall.

In 2018, O’Rourke was selected as the football Division IV State Coach of the Year. O’Rourke looked back at the achievement as he spoke to The Highland County Press on Thursday:

“I coached teams that made the playoffs at three other schools, and it was special to coach Hillsboro to the playoffs, too,” O’Rourke said. “To be State Coach of the Year that season was special, and I was shocked. Before I’ve been District Coach of the Year, but being named State Coach of the Year meant a great deal, and it solidified all the years of coaching.

“Being at Hillsboro, I had great coaches and great kids to coach, and that group was fun to be around because we were all so close, and we believed in each other. It was a special time.”

During his tenure with the Indians, O’Rourke rebuilt the program to have success as they had six consecutive losing seasons before his arrival, with no more than three wins in a season from 2010-15.

The Indians have also been undefeated in the annual Rotary Bowl game against McClain under O’Rourke with a record of 6-0, with a most recent win this season by a 31-7 score.

O’Rourke’s teams were 30-30 in regular-season games from 2016-21, with two winning seasons at 7-3 in 2017 and 9-2 with a playoff berth in 2018. The Indians under O’Rourke also had three four-win seasons and one two-win season.

“I didn’t want to hold Hillsboro up with their process of having a football head coach, and I’ve really enjoyed my time as the head coach here.” O’Rourke said. “I loved all the people I’ve worked with, and I appreciated all of the support I had as the head coach.

“All of my coaches and kids I’ve coached were hard workers, and I’ll miss it.”

This past 2021 season was O’Rourke’s sixth season with the Indians and his 37th season overall as a head coach. The Indians had a 4-6 record.

O’Rourke is unsure if he is done coaching, but he said he still will be a teacher at Hillsboro.

“More than anything, I want what is best for the community and the best for the kids,” O’Rourke said of the resignation as head coach. “I will always have a place in my heart for Hillsboro, as again I enjoyed my time as head coach.

“I just wanted to do what was best for the kids.” 

"We'd like to thank Coach O'Rourke for all of the work he has put in during his tenure as our head football coach," Hillsboro athletic director Brett Prince said. "Coach is an outstanding person, and he has a great football mind. We wish him nothing but the best as we both move forward."