By Jim Hagerty
ROCKFORD — The man credited with turning the Auburn High School football program around in recent years has decided to step down as head coach.
Dan Appino, who came from Boylan High School in 2012, announced Wednesday, Nov. 8, that he will not head the Auburn program next year.
“I have reached a point in my career and life where the energy and enthusiasm needed to maintain that high-level position has eclipsed my ability and desire to fulfill those needs on a continual basis,” Appino said in a RPS 205 statement.
Appino led Auburn to five IHSA playoff appearances in his six seasons at the helm, and posted an overall record of 43-20. Before he arrived, the Knights’ varsity football team had lost 35 straight games. His 2012 team went 5-4, and got better from there, winning two NIC-10 Conference titles. The Knights finished 8-1 this season, before being upset by Belvidere North in the first round of the postseason.
Appino was named the NIC-10 Boys Coach of the Year in 2016.
Appino spent 27 years at Boylan, 10 as head football coach. He led the Titans to back-to-back state championships in 2011-12, with teams that featured a host of notable players, such as current Green Packers defensive lineman Dean Lowry. More than 20 of Appino’s Auburn players have gone on to play college football.
Auburn assistant JP Toldo has been named Appino’s replacement, a hire pending school board approval.
“I have valued coach Appino as a mentor, coach and friend for the last decade,” Toldo said in a statement. “He will continue to be a valued member of our football family. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to continue our Auburn football tradition.”
Appino said he will remain involved in the football program as an assistant or volunteer. He is also a guidance counselor at Auburn. R.