By James Kay
After former Lyons Township High School football head coach Dan Hartman stepped down from his position at the school in July, the Lions were tasked to fill the vacancy he left behind.
Waiting in the wings was nine-year LTHS football assistant coach Jon Beutjer. As a former high school football star and collegiate and professional quarterback, Beutjer is ready to mold the program to his liking.
He talked with the Landmark to discuss what the future holds for LTHS football.
After being in the program for 10 years, how important do you think it is for you to have the familiarity that you do with the program under these circumstances?
Beutjer: I think it helps that I've been at LT for 10 years. I've gotten to know the community, the kids, the athletic program and former players that came through here. I live in the community also that helps me get to know the younger kids as well. It's a real honor and a blessing. I'm very humbled to be at such a great school.
Since you came to LTHS, was this a goal of yours, to eventually take over the reins to the Lions' football team?
It's always been at the back of my mind. Watching coach [Kurt] Weinberg very closely and coach [Dan] Hartman and being around Tom Sloan, I've been blessed to learn and watch these great coaches at LT. There's a lot of fine coaches at LT and I feel like this is a great time for me.
What are your goals now that you are the leader of the program?
Our goals as a coaching staff is to get the best out of each player and help them reach their potential on the football field and in the classroom. We want them to also become the person we know they can become.
I believe that when you demand excellence from yourself, and you are a person of high character, and you have great sportsmanship, and you're a team player, you do all the right things off the field, then the wins will come.
What was the players' reaction to you getting the job?
I've been very blessed to develop a lot of great relationships with former players. I've been overwhelmed and humbled by all the messages that I've received from former players, former parents, current parents, current players, and even then future players and future parents as well. I'm very thankful to have such a great support group. I'm excited about it, but very humbled as well.
Having been a prolific high school QB and experiencing success at University of Illinois, what can we expect to see from the offense this upcoming season?
We want our kids to perfect the basics, perfect our schemes, learn how to block and learn how to tackle. Offensively, we want to control the clock, move to chains and drive the ball down the field and score points. Most importantly we have to get the football into the hands of your best players.
One of the things that is important for high school sports is recruiting. Your football background speaks for itself but what do you bring to the table in that regard?
I have been blessed to continue my relationship with Kurt Weinberg who coached here for a while. For the last eight years, I've witnessed college coaches coming in the spring and I've gotten to know some of them because [Weinberg] was nice enough to introduce me to a lot of them.
So I've actually developed relationships with a lot of the colleges, even though those guys bounce around all the time. I have witnessed the way in which [Weinberg] handled recruiters which was great.
With football not coming back until the spring, how are you going to get the players ready during this down time?
For now, I just started sending the kids workouts and we have had whole-program Zoom meetings. We are soon going to start talking about college recruiting and just keeping them focused.
Right now, we are going to have Zoom meetings twice a week but that will change as we get closer to the start of the school year. We are using this as a teachable moment where the staff is teaching [the players] life lessons so they are prepared for life after football. But we are also motivated to get the program going and perform at an extremely high level.