Parkway junior quarterback Justin Barna (2) talks with head coach Dan Cairns during a stoppage of play in a game against New Bremen on Friday, Oct. 23, 2015 in Rockford. Cairns resigned his position this week. The Panthers were 9-41 in his five seasons, including 2-8 last year. (DHI Media/Pat Agler/file)
Parkway junior quarterback Justin Barna (2) talks with head coach Dan Cairns during a stoppage of play in a game against New Bremen on Friday, Oct. 23, 2015 in Rockford. Cairns resigned his position this week. The Panthers were 9-41 in his five seasons, including 2-8 last year. (DHI Media/Pat Agler/file)
ROCKFORD — Dan Cairns has resigned his position as Parkway’s head football coach following a 2-8 campaign. It was a decision Cairns said didn’t come easily.

“I’ve been thinking about for about the last month,” Cairns said. “There are numerous things. It has been difficult over my time here to find and keep coaches, but probably the biggest thing is when I came here, I came here to try to turn the program around, to turn it into a winning program, and I honestly just haven’t had the success that I would liked to have had.”

The Panthers have gone 9-41 over Cairns’ five seasons at the helm

“I always told myself that if wasn’t getting the most out of the kids and I felt like I was doing them a disservice, I figured it was time for me to move on and let a new voice take over the program.”

Though Cairns has resigned his position as the head football coach, he says he has no plans to leave the district.

“We moved here, I like teaching in the district, my kids are here in the district and I’m coaching two other sports (bowling and tracks and field),” Cairns said. “I plan to continue to do all of that. I’m still a Parkway Panthers, I just really getting the results I needed to.”

Though Cairns has spent the majority of his life in football, he says he’s looking forward to spending some time away from the field.

“A varsity football coach is a 12-month-a-year job,” Cairns said. “(Resigning) was a tough decision because I played football for 12 years, from pee wee up through college, and I’ve coached it for 25 years. In a lot of ways, everything I have ever earned of have gotten, the friends I have made, they have been as a result of football. Every job I’ve ever had has been as a result of football. I met my wife through football. It has defined me for 37 years. I’m not sure what life is like without it, but I’m going to step back from here, take my first summer and fall without having to be somewhere every day of the week and see how things go. I’m going to try to be a little bit more involved with my kids and see where things go.”

Cairns has been a head coach at Brookside and Sidney High Schools before coming to Parkway and hasn’t necessarily decided to permanently leave the sideline.

“I wouldn’t rule out being an assistant coach or even coaching junior high,” Cairns said, adding that he expects to take at least a year off of coaching football. “I coach football because I love the camaraderie of it, I love being around the kids, I love having that closeness with the kids and with the assistant coaches; a lot of bonding goes on.

“Me, my wife and my family had a long talk about it and decided it was time to take a break.”

When the Panthers take the field next fall, they will be under the guidance of their 16th head coach. Since 1980, only one of those, Charlie Hoyman, who coached the Panthers from 1982-85, had a winning record. Hoyman was 20-19-1.

“If you look at the history of Parkway over the last 25-30 years in the (Midwest Athletic Conference), it has been a tough go,” Cairns said. “Probably the only sport that has any kind of consistent success has been girls softball. For the boys, baseball is probably Parkway’s flagship boys program, and it has been probably a dozen years since they even won a MAC championship. The boys sports have been on a dry run.”

When asked if he felt the Panthers would be better off looking for a new conference in which to compete, Cairns wouldn’t say one way or the other.

“I’ll leave that up to your determination,” Cairns said. “My opinion is that there have been a lot of good coaches come and go over the last 25-30 years. It is hard to believe that there has been that many bad coaches hired. There have been coaches that have come from great success and left and gone on to great success, but struggled here. I’m not really sure what that correct answer is. Maybe they would have more success if they were in another league, but it is hard to say. I think our sports programs across the board have been somewhat competitive and have a decent record in non-league games, but it would just depend on what league they got in.”

Parkway’s last MAC football championship came in the 1975 season, the last of three consecutive MAC titles. The Panthers have just one winning season in the past 15 years.