By Marty Farmer
The Lyons Township High School football team lost a good head coach in Kurt Weinberg when he resigned after last season. Weinberg guided the Lions to nine playoff appearances in 10 years, highlighted by Class 8A quarterfinal berths in the 2010, 2011 and 2012 state playoffs.
Last season, LTHS had an uncharacteristically subpar season with a 1-8 record, and this year Dan Hartman takes over the program with a proven track record of success as well.
He coached Hinsdale Central to a 40-13 record and five postseason berths over the past five years. His overall record as a head coach is 67-22 with three conference titles and eight trips to the playoffs, including quarterfinal and semifinal appearances during his stint at Evergreen Park.
"I'm confident Coach Hartman is a great fit for our Lions football program," said LTHS Athletic Director John Grundke in a press release. "He brings a wealth of experience and leadership. His dedication to players on and off the field will only add to the LT program."
So far, the Lions' new coach likes what he sees.
"I am very excited about our team," Hartman said. "The players have been working hard this offseason. I have been most impressed with their hunger to do anything it takes to win."
On offense, wide receivers Chris Clarke and Sam Rodriguez will be primary targets of promising quarterback Blaise Reichert. Sophomore Joey Antonietti is a capable backup for Reichert. Theo Gazis (6-2, 260), Aidan Kelly (6-2, 245) and Cameron Trimborn (6-1, 245) anchor the offensive line.
"We expect big things out of Chris and Sam as they gained a lot of experience last year," Hartman said. "Blaise takes over at quarterback and just keeps getting better and better every day."
Defensively, lineman Anthony Georgelos and linebackers Sam Heyer and Jimmy Pouba are leaders. Zach Janicki and Arthur Chatt are top contributors in the secondary, while junior defensive backs Ray Kloes and Michael Newson are newcomers to watch.
"Our team is very fast and athletic," Hartman said. "They key for us will be our ability to consistently do the little things necessary to win. If we can do the little things every day, we will get better each day and have a successful season."
Glenbard West, Hinsdale Central and Oak Park and River Forest notched a three-way tie as West Suburban Conference Silver Division champions last season. Those three teams should contend again for the title, with LTHS, Downers Grove North, York and Proviso West looking to get in the mix.
"The West Suburban Silver is one of the best conferences in the state," Hartman said. "I think everyone is chasing Glenbard West."
LTHS opens the season at New Trier on Friday, Aug. 30. Kickoff is 7 p.m.