DU QUOIN -- A familiar face in Du Quoin High School Athletics was named the new head football coach for the Indians Wednesday night at a meeting of the school board.
Derek Beard, the district's athletic director and boys track coach, becomes only the fourth head coach for the tribe in the last half century -- following Bob Karnes, Al Martin and most recently, A.J. Hill. Hill's term was the shortest. He was at the helm the last four seasons before accepting last month an assistant's role at Class 4A Rochester for the fall of 2019.
The 33-year-old Beard is a 2003 graduate of DHS. He played four years of football for the Indians (1999-2003), and after two years as a student assistant coach at Southeast Missouri State, returned to his alma mater to serve as a volunteer assistant while finishing his degree at SIU.
"I have been here at Du Quoin ever since, always on a volunteer basis," Beard said. "I'm very thankful for the opportunity. The community really supports the program and the participation level from our kids is fantastic. It just shows how kids want to be part of our program. We've been extremely successful over the years. Hopefully, I can help continue that success as head coach."
Beard acknowledged that Hill did not leave an empty cupboard. Several lettermen/starters return from last year's playoff team, including heavy numbers on both the offensive and defensive lines.
"That's where games are won -- in the trenches," Beard said.
Beard added that the added responsibilities should not be much of an adjustment for him.
"I was already taking time out to serve as an assistant," he said.
Beard mostly coached running backs, defensive backs and kickers in his previous assistant's role. He was also junior varsity head coach.
DHS Principal and soon-to-be superintendent, Matt Hickam, said he was excited to see Beard get the chance to serve as head coach.
"He does a great job as our boys' track coach and has spent many years as an assistant football coach. I know from working with Derek that his years as an assistant were spent not simply following directions, but also thinking about how he would handle game situations and manage the program," Hickam said. "This thought process was done for this moment. No one understands the tradition and history of Indians football better and no one will work harder to be successful. I am confident Derek will do a great job leading our football program."