BOYNE CITY — Longtime head coach Dave Hills is stepping away from the Boyne City football program.
Hills spent the last 16 of his 21 years as a head coach with the Ramblers. He led the program to three conference titles (2001, 2014, 2017) and amassed a 125-45 record as the Boyne City head coach.
When Hills took over during the 2000-2001 school year the Ramblers football program had only reached the playoffs three times in its 99 year history.
Hills turned the program around quickly, winning his first conference title in 2001 and starting a streak of eight straight playoff appearances for the Ramblers.
Hills took a hiatus from coaching from 2009-2011 to focus on his family but returned to lead the Ramblers to six more playoff appearances between 2012-2017. Hills led the Ramblers to the state semi-final game in 2001 and 2014, finishing each season with a 12-1 record — tied for the best in school history.
"Coach Hills has been a tremendous force for good in our community," Boyne City athletic director John Hertel said. "He is a role model for young people in our community and we will miss his leadership and veteran presence on our high school coaching staff. We regretfully accept Coach Hills' coaching resignation and we respect his decision to spend more time with his family and to pursue his other interests."
Hills led the Ramblers to six district final appearances, three district championships and two regional titles. According to records complied by Boyne City, Coach Hills' win total and winning percentage both rank first in the 117 year history of the program.
Coach Hills’ achievements extend far beyond the football field, as he has touched lives of countless Boyne City Public Schools and Northern Michigan youths. He has been instrumental in promoting safe football fundamentals in Northern Michigan and many of his student-athletes have gone on to play college football.
As a testament to the way he has run his program, he has also garnered many coaching honors over the years. He was honored by the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association (MHSFCA) as Regional Coach of the Year 7 times (2001, 2002, 2006, 2008, 2014, 2015, and 2017). In 2001, Coach Hills also was honored as both Detroit News and Detroit Free Press Class C Football Coach of the Year and led the Ramblers to be honored with the Boyne Area Chamber of Commerce Community Pride Award.
As further evidence of Coach Hills’ success extending beyond his win-loss record, his efforts were recognized by the Beyond the Scoreboard organization with the 2010 Champions of Character Award. In 2015, he received the Petoskey News-Review Northwest Michigan All-Sport Coach of the Year Runner-up and earned a Riddell Smarter Football Grant Award (one of only seven given nationally) because of his efforts in teaching proper football techniques. Coach Hills also earned the prestigious honor of Detroit Lions High School Coach of Week for Week 9 of the 2017 season.
The district will hold a parent and player meeting prior to Thanksgiving to gather feedback regarding the future of the program and the future of the head coaching position.