Devil of a decision

By Dan Hiner

Jim Tsilimos was born to be a football coach.

He has been the face to the Blue Devils’ program since 1990, but his football career has come to an end.

On Tuesday, Lisbon issued a press release announcing Tsilimos’ retirement.

Tsilimos, 64, has been a teacher at Lisbon since 1990 and said he wants to continue teaching until he turns 65.

He said he’ll enjoy his time away from football. But he’ll continue to read about football and learn about what’s new in the sport. Tsilimos said he might consider a return to the sidelines if he the coaching itch ever returns.

“I decided to take some time away and take some time off, and if I miss it, I’ll be back,” Tsilimos said. “It was a great run in Lisbon and I really enjoyed my 25 years. I’m 64, and a lot of guys leave their schools — coaches, teachers — leave mad and upset.

“I’m not, I’m happy.”

Tsilimos began coaching in 1975 as a student-coach at Mount Union. Tsilimos played for the Purple Raiders before an injury ended his career.

He started coaching high school football in 1976 at Newton Falls before making stops at North Carolina State, Howard University and Hiram College.

Over his 25-year coaching career, Tsilimos has become the most successful coach in Lisbon history.

Last fall, he surpassed Bud Bucher for career wins at Lisbon and finished with a record of 147-97 with the Blue Devils.

He coached the Blue Devils to seven playoff appearances, including a Division V state championship in 1995. Lisbon overcame a 21-7 deficit in the championship game against Cincinnati Mariemont and won 34-31 in double overtime.

The only other local public school to win state since was Poland in 1999.

Tsilimos left the program briefly following the 2007 season when his youngest son, Steve, played football at the University of Chicago. He returned to Lisbon in 2011 after his son’s career ended.

Lisbon had a 30-12 record over the last four seasons, including 9-2 records in 2015 and 2016.

Kyle Bing, Lisbon assistant principal and athletic director, said the program is already looking for Tsilimos’ replacement.

Bing played for Tsilimos in the late 1990s and joined the Lisbon coaching staff in 2011.

“He had a aura about him as a player,” Bing said. “He had already won a state championship, we were really successful. He had that presence about him.

“Coming in later on, being a part on his staff, it was an honor to coach with him. You get to see a different side of him. He’s very meticulous with everything he does as a coach. He’s very business-like. You got to see the funnier, softer side [when] coaching with him.”

Lisbon Principal Keith Edenfield and Bing are accepting applications.

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