Dan DeBoeuf started his Friday morning with an emotional meeting with his Johnsburg football players, one he termed “bittersweet” after delivering the news that he was leaving the school to take the head coaching job at Prospect.
“It’s been an interesting week,” DeBoeuf said. “To say goodbye this morning was tough. I’ve been in contact with a lot of the guys, even from my first year here. They bought into what I was selling. They did something really special.”
DeBoeuf’s first team went 8-3, his next two won Kishwaukee River Conference championships and did not lose a regular-season game. The 2016 team was the Skyhawks’ best in history, advancing to the Class 4A state championship game and losing to Rochester, 38-14.
In only three seasons, DeBoeuf became Johnsburg’s second-winningest coach (31-5) behind Illinois High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Famer Bob Bradshaw (49-30 in eight years).
“For me to leave Johnsburg, with what we’ve accomplished, it had to be a school at the highest level that had some history,” DeBoeuf said.
DeBoeuf said he would teach special education at Prospect. He taught physical education and health at Johnsburg but also has worked in adaptive P.E. with special needs students.
DeBoeuf was the 2016 Northwest Herald Football Coach of the Year after leading the Skyhawks to a 13-1 record. He brought them back last season, after graduating several key players from the state runner-up team, to again win the KRC.
Quarterback Adam Jayko thrived in the Skyhawks’ new fast-paced offense that DeBoeuf installed after watching Rochester in the state title game. Jayko completed 70.2 percent of his passes for 2,590 yards, with 39 touchdowns and six interceptions.
Prospect had six consecutive losing seasons under former coach Mike Sebestyen but made the playoffs 12 of 13 years before that. The Knights won Class 7A state titles in 2001, 2002 and 2005.
“He has demonstrated innovation on and off the field that has contributed to a championship culture,” Prospect assistant principal of student activities Frank Mirandola said. “His positive energy instills a contagious competitive belief within his student-athletes that empowers them to fearlessly pursue their goals without reservation.”
DeBoeuf said all the support around the school and town made it difficult to leave Johnsburg.
“It was a time in my life I’ll never forget,” DeBoeuf said. “(Principal) Kevin Shelton will never understand all the leadership skills I learned from him. The community has been incredible to me and my family. There was an incredible buy-in from the players. Without that, none of this would have been possible.”
DeBoeuf and his wife, Kelly, are expecting their first child any day.