MOUNT CARMEL, Ill. – The winningest football coach in the history of Mount Carmel High School is calling it a career.
Darren Peach, with 141 wins in 16 years at the helm of the Golden Aces, texted his announcement to local media sources on Tuesday evening. He wrote: “I retired from being head football coach. I have turned my letter in for next school board meeting and I told the kids today.”
Succeeding John Hart in 2001, Peach took all but two of his teams to the playoffs. Three made it all the way to the IHSA state championship game: 2001 and 2002 in Class 4A, with losses to private power Addison Driscoll, and Class 3A in 2011, losing to another parochial school Aurora Christian.
Three other teams advanced to the semifinals: in 2007, 2010 and 2014.
Peach also ushered the program into the Big 8 Conference era in 2003. The Aces first figured into the championship in 2006, won it outright in 2007, then won or shared other crowns in 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2016.
The Aces finished with a perfect 9-0 regular season three times: in 2002, 2007 and 2016, when his most recent team finished 10-1.
“I always wanted to coach my boys. That was the ultimate goal of being head coach,” said Peach during a subsequent interview Tuesday night. “You know when it’s time, and my time as head coach has come and gone.”
His youngest son, Daxton, will graduate in 2017.
Peach informed the team of his decision during an emotional meeting following school on Tuesday afternoon. “I was so emotional I was just trying to get through it myself,” he said. “That was extremely difficult to talk with the kids for the last time as head football coach at MCHS.”
He told school officials, including principal Pat Cheesman and superintendent Tim Buss, around two weeks ago. “I told them after basketball season was over, I would go public with everything.” The official resignation notice was delivered to the school on Monday, his birthday.
Peach’s successor will not find the cupboard bare. The Aces are expected to return lots of size up front, along with quality at skill spots, including Jackson Marcotte and Zach Whittler.
“A lot of those guys are a good nucleus to start with,” Peach said.
He reminded the players that when he took over from Hart n 2001, current football assistant coach Michael Brewer and current basketball coach Tyler Buss were sophomores in high school. “I remember coach Hart giving his speech, and the kids went out and worked real hard. I expect (this group of players) to go out to the weight room and work real hard this time as well.”
Peach, who played for coach Larry Lockhart at the Hilltop, finished with a final record of 141-46, for a winning percentage of .754. He also winds up as the longest-tenured coach in school history.