Matt Zimolzak put a lot into Huntley’s football program over the past 10 seasons, most of which were highly successful for the Red Raiders.
But after six seasons as head coach, Zimolzak felt like he had nothing else left to give. The Red Raiders coach announced his resignation to the team in a meeting Tuesday and also sent a letter to players’ parents.
“It was a tough decision. You know when it’s time,” Zimolzak said. “Your energy is tapped. Everything that it takes to be a head coach, especially at a program like Huntley, takes everything you’ve got.
“I gave everything I’ve got, and I don’t have what I think the program needs left in the tank. I don’t have it anymore.”
Zimolzak’s teams were 38-19 over his six seasons. The Raiders tied with Prairie Ridge for the 2019 Fox Valley Conference title and won their FVC division in the 2021 spring season. In 2019, Huntley pulled off the rare feat of beating Prairie Ridge and Cary-Grove, which had the three previous Class 6A state titles between them, in back-to-back weeks.
This season, Huntley saw its string of six consecutive playoff appearances snapped as it finished 3-6.
“I’ve never been worried about the record. It’s about the legacy of the program and continuing what you start and building and building as you go on,” Zimolzak said. “That’s what we want. We want to build great tradition, we want to become one of those schools that people have to look at on their schedule, and I think we did that.
“This year is a bump in the road, but in the past we’ve done a great job with them. The buy-in to the program and their dedication and commitment to what we ask them to do is phenomenal, and I can’t imagine them not continuing with that.”
Zimolzak met with his players after school Tuesday to deliver the news.
“We appreciate coach Zimolzak and all the time and efforts he put to [Huntley] football,” Huntley athletic director Glen Wilson said. “We really appreciate his hard work with our kids.”
Huntley football records go back to 1994 on the IHSA website, and Zimolzak is the school’s winningest coach since that point.
Zimolzak had a 3-5 playoff record in the rugged Class 8A bracket, with two wins coming in his first season (2016). The Raiders knocked off Stevenson in the first round, then beat Fremd in the second round before falling to Loyola in the quarterfinals. Zimolzak teaches physics at Fremd in Palatine, but lives in Huntley.
“That was an emotional roller coaster, working at a school and having to compete against them in the second round of the playoffs,” Zimolzak said.
Zimolzak worked for four years as defensive coordinator under coach John Hart, who took the Raiders to the playoffs three times. He then took over for Hart and led the Raiders to the postseason four more times.
Wilson will field applications for a position that should draw a high number of applicants.
“Football in the Fox Valley is premium and high-level,” Wilson said. “I’m surmising there may be a few folks interested in the position.”
Wilson indicated that having a teacher at Huntley may not be a prerequisite for the position.
“We want to find the best fit for our culture and Huntley High School,” Wilson said.