EAST MOLINE — The United Township Panthers football team will have an eighth head coach over the course of 17 seasons, dating back to the school's last winning team of 2001.
Jim DuPage, head coach of the Panthers for the past two seasons, submitted his resignation on Monday and athletic director Mark Pustelnik confirmed it on Tuesday.
DuPage steps down after compiling a 3-15 record. He was 2-7 in his first season at UT.
DuPage says his decision has "nothing to do with the program or the kids. It is for personal reasons."
He added that, at this point, he has no plans to get involved in coaching football at any level. "I'm just stepping away for some time," he noted. "I have not current plans to continue coaching."
The two wins posted by DuPage's UT team of 2017 matched the records of the '04, '05, '11 and '15 teams. That is the most any Panther team has won since 2003 when Mark Kaczmarek coached them a 4-5 record.
UT has not had a winning record since an 8-2 season in 2001 in what was coach Mike Tracey's last year of a six-year stretch, though he came back for one more year in 2006.
DuPage insists that UT can achieve a winning program and can do so in the near future.
"It's just going to be grinding," he said. "It's the same thing I've said for the last two years. You get the kids to buy into the grinding and it can be turned around and turned around fairly quickly.
"It's not that the kids aren't buying into it; they've just got to know it's a hard road and it will take a full commitment."
Another area of concern for Panther football is keeping a head coach for more than two years. There have been only three of those since 2002 — Kaczmarek for four years, Ron Litchfield for four years (2010-13) and Kai Killam for three years (2007-09).
DuPage, 34, said the performance of the team over his two years was not particularly a factor. "It was more of a personal decision after talking to my family," he said. "It is nothing sad or sudden or anything."
DuPage had been in the UT football program for six years. In the previous four years, he had been everything from a freshman head coach to a sophomore head coach to a varsity offensive coordinator.
"In fact," he said, "there was one year where I was all three of those," pointing to one of the two Jason Kirby years of 2014-15.