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Belleville East football coach Funk resigns

A successful era in Belleville football will come to an end when the District 201 Board of Education formally accepts the resignation of East head coach Tim Funk.

Funk, who has been at the Lancers' helm for the last 12 season, informed East Athletic Director Jim Loyet of his decision Wednesday.

He departs with a career record of 71-51. Nine of his 12 teams qualified for the state playoffs, eight of them in Class 8A.

"We're sorry to lose him, but we certainly understand and support his decision," Loyet said. "I know it's been weighing on him. All we can do is thank him for all that he's done. He certainly is leaving the program in a better state than it was when he arrived. That's not to say there was anything wrong with it, any means, but he has stepped it up to the next level."

Funk's resignation is motivated partially by his son Nathan, who is a junior three-sport athlete at Triad High School. Mostly, he said, he simply feels the time is right.

"The job is a big one," he said. "But it's been nothing but a great time for me. I've developed some great relationships and coached some great kids. At this point, though, it's just the right time to let somebody else take over."

Funk played football at Normal Community High School, then for four years for Carl Poelker at Millikin University in Decatur. Since his playing days, he's served as an assistant at Millikin and McKendree.

Only three of Funk's teams at Belleville East finished their seasons with a losing record, and none had any fewer than four wins.

His best season was in 2010 when the Lancers finished 10-3 and advanced to the Class 7A state semifinals. Their season ended with a loss to eventual state champion Wheaton-Warrenville South.

Among his most notable former players are offensive lineman Kyle Calloway, who had a successful career at Iowa before being drafted by the NFL's Buffalo Bills in 2010, and Warren Herring, the Wisconsin University defensive end who projects as a pick in this year's draft.

But Funk says he values all the "countless" players he's coached.

"There is a lot of football to be played all over the place, whether it be Division I, Division III, NAIA or whatever," he said. "Some of the guys decide to go on and some don't, but I've been proud to be a part of coaching them and teaching them the game I love and all the teamwork, dedication and focus it takes to be successful."

He'll continue at East as a driver's education and physical education teacher, he said.

Funk also says his resignation does not close the door on a future in football.

"I'm 45 years old and for 38 years of my life I've been involved in football, either as a player or as a coach," he said. "Those how know me well and are around me know my passion for the game. I can definitely see the possibility of getting back into it in some role."

As of Thursday evening, Loyet had not yet met with school district administration to discuss the vacancy Funk's resignation leaves, but did say there won't be much delay beginning the search for a new coach.

"It's April so we're not exactly panicking, but we want to find the person who is the best fit for the job," he said. "It is a major sports program and a big job."