With the Class 3A and 4A boys basketball state championships still to be decided, a pair of metro-east coaches have decided to step down.
Mascoutah's Cody Reynolds and Freeburg's T.J. Hoover have tendered their resignations following up-and-down seasons with their teams.
Reynolds has led the Indians through each of the last six seasons and a combined record of 53-119. His best season was his first, when Mascoutah won 12 wins in the 2009-10 season.
His resignation was approved Tuesday by the Mascoutah District 19 Board.
"Anybody who's been in the coaching business knows the time commitment," he said. "It's not an easy decision because I enjoy working with the kids and seeing them develop, but after 10 years it feels like the right time."
Reynolds, who previously coached five season at Seneca High School, says he plans to spend more time with his family in his hometown of Findlay and to pursue other career goals.
His father, Mike Reynolds, coach the Findlay Falcons to a Class A state championship in 1992.
"I've got some goals that involve taking some graduate courses and finishing my master's degree to advance my career," he said. "The season gets underway around Thanksgiving and then Christmas is busy with all the holidays. It's hard to get up to spend time with my family, which is something I plan to do more often."
The Indians were 11-20 during the most recent season, including an eight-game losing streak which lasted from Jan. 16 through Feb. 3. They finished strong, though, winning five of six games before a season-ending loss to state tournament qualifier Althoff at their own home regional.
Reynolds said he likely would entertain future opportunities to coach again. In the meantime, he'll continue to teach driver's education, health and physical education at Mascoutah.
"I don't know if I can single out any one team in particular from the last five years, but this last group, with the seven seniors, was really a lot of fun," he said. "They had something to do with the timing of this decision, because it allows me to go out on a good note. I've really enjoyed this group of kids."
Mascoutah Athletic Director Scott Battas said the coaching position will be posted this week along with other open teaching positions. He said Reynolds has helped make the position attractive to coaching candidates.
"Cody is a class guy and has been since he arrived here five years ago," Battas said. "He did a lot of good things for the program and is leaving it in good shape going forward. As far as a time frame for a new hire, we don't really have one. We're not trying to do it as fast as possible, but want to do it right."
With seven departing seniors from this year's team, Battas also said the timing is right for a new coach to step in.
"It's a good starting point for a new coach to start with a clean slate of young and inexperienced players," he said. "This way he lay a foundation for himself heading into the future."
Hoover is stepping down following his fifth season at Freeburg.
His career started in 2010-11 with a 2-27 record, but grew progressively better with each season. The Midgets were 7-21 in 2012, 10-17 in 2013 and 16-11 in 2014.
“I stated in my letter my belief that the program is in a better position now than when I came here — and I was here as an assistant,” he said. “Last year was the pinnacle, with 16 wins and the conference championship. We hadn’t had a winning season since ’06-07, if I remember correctly. I’m definitely proud of the kids and our record here.”
They slid back to 12-17 including a regional loss to Columbia in the first round of the Mascoutah Regional. But the Midgets had their moments, including a 66-62 win over rival Columbia on Dec. 19 and three wins at the Metro East Lutheran tip-off tournament.
“The grind just finally got to me and I decided it was a good time to hang it up,” Hoover said. “It was a hard season for the team. Three guys went down with mono and two were gone for the season. We had to move guys into other positions and it took a while to regain some continuity.
“But the kids never quit and they came and played hard every night. But it just wore them out, I think.”
Hoover says he’ll spend more time with his son Eli, 13, and 8-year-old twin boys Rylan and Isiah. He left the door open to the possibility of returning to the bench someday as an assistant, but head coaching “probably isn’t in the cards,” he said.
Beyond confirming the acceptance of Hoover's resignation, Freeburg Athletic Director Steve Sergesketter declined to comment on the former coach or the process of finding his replacement. Sergesketter said he will be retiring at the end of the current school year.