Evanston is in search of a new head football coach after Pat Fackrell decided to resign from the job, activities director Bubba O’Neill told the Star-Tribune on Tuesday.
The Red Devils went a combined 32-55 in nine seasons under Fackrell. His importance in that position, however, was not predicated by numbers, according to O’Neill.
“We’re not here for wins and losses; he’s here for the development of the program,” O’Neill said. “He’s getting the kids ready for life. They’re doing what they can in the classroom, in the growth of the community and all of those important things.”
Fackrell also helped football players who wanted to extend their playing days. His experience and connections at the collegiate ranks meant extending development for players for at least another few years. That meant a lot to the community.
“That was extremely important for us as well,” O’Neill said. “If you look at the overall student-athletes, Coach Fackrell did a great job of preparing students for life after high school.”
The ultimate decision for Fackrell to resign took school officials off guard. O’Neill remembered hearing Fackrell entertain the thought of resigning but only after particularly difficult seasons before reaffirming his desire to coach football for another season.
Evanston made the playoffs in all of Fackrell’s first six seasons before a particularly difficult 2016 campaign. Weeks into the season the Red Devils discovered they’d drop to Class 3A the next season in order to make room in 4A for the addition of Thunder Basin. Evanston finished the 2016 season 0-9, its first winless season in program history since 2002.
In the two seasons that followed, however, the Red Devils went a combined 10-8 and made the quarterfinals last season.
Fackrell’s nine seasons at the helm are the second-most for an Evanston coach behind only his father, Kay. The elder Fackrell, for whom Evanston’s football stadium is named, coached the Red Devils for 18 seasons (1980-1997).
“We’re going to miss Coach (Pat) Fackrell and that stability,” O’Neill said. “The Fackrell name has been around for a long, long time and to move away from that is going to be a change.”
O’Neill said that out of respect for Fackrell, his coaching staff, returning football players and the school’s athletes, he wanted to wait until after the winter sports season to open the position for applications, which he did Tuesday. The next head coach will be the program’s 25th.