Ilalio leaves post as Service football coach after one season

Jeremy Peters

After helping Service become one of the top high school football programs in the state over his seven years with the team, Numi Ilalio woke up Tuesday and decided to resign from his position as head coach, a position he held for one season.

Ilalio cited an overabundance of administrative work involved with being a head coach as his primary reason for his voluntary resignation.

"I inherited a lot more than I expected in terms of an administrative aspects," he said. "I'm constantly tired and exhausted at night, doing all the coaching stuff."

Ilalio, a retired Army master sergeant, was an assistant coach for his first six years at Service and helped the Cougars reach the state title game in four of the last five seasons. The Cougars beat South to win the team's sixth state title last season and lost the rematch with the Wolverines last weekend.

"Before Saturday's game, I was pretty much contemplating (resignation)," Ilalio said.

Ilalio lives to coach football, and he called his year as a head coach a great journey -- but ultimately it's not what he wants. Trying to put together game plans while also arranging travel schedules and equipment orders became too much, he said. So was dealing with negativity from outside the football program, something he said created its share of headaches.

"You aren't gonna make everybody happy," he said. "Those are dramas that comes with the job. There's always animosity toward a successful program."

Service principal John Gaskins could not be reached for comment.

As for the future, Ilalio said much depends on where his son Matt ends up. Matt was an all-state senior defensive back for the Cougars this season and might have an opportunity to play college football.

The recruiting process is arduous, Ilalio said, and he wants to make sure his son receives all the assistance he needs. Wherever Matt ends up will likely determine Ilalio's future in coaching. He would like to assist with whatever football program his son chooses.

"I only have one son and I need to help him prepare for his life," he said.

The University of South Dakota expressed interest in Matt, Ilalio said, but he may opt to spend a year at the Phillips Academy, a prep school in Massachusetts. Matt Ilalio is scheduled to play in an all-star game in California in January, where he will be exposed to more college scouts.

Ilalio said no successor has been named to take over the Service program yet, but he thinks any of his assistant coaches are worthy of promotion.

Ilalio alerted players of his decision via text messages and phone calls Tuesday. He said they told him how proud they were to play for him.

"I'm very touched by that," Ilalio said. "I hope my kids at Service will walk away with life-lesson skills and hold their head up high."

Reach Jeremy Peters at or 257-4335.