3/7/2017 5:53:00 PM Dan Hutchings to take over as football coach
by Brent Sumner Staff writer
Following Lenny Onsen's announcement earlier this year that he was stepping down as head football coach, Coal City was left with a big void to fill.
The football program was in need of someone with "Coaler Pride" values who could continue a tradition of winning.
On Wednesday the Unit 1 Board of Education voted 6-1 to fill that void by naming Athletic Director Dan Hutchings the head football coach.
"I am very excited and humbled by it," said Hutchings. "The opportunity to come back, I didn't know if it would come up, and it did. I threw my name in the hat, and the interview team gave me the opportunity. I am grateful for it because it is a great program."
Hutchings began working for Coal City High School in 1995, after graduating from Eastern Illinois University.
He was a coaching assistant with the football program during that time, serving as the offensive coordinator under Ken Miller for five years, and working with Onsen for 10 years.
After the 2010-11 season, Hutchings stepped down after being named to the athletic director position.
"You couldn't work with two better guys, with Onsen and Miller," Hutchings added. "They are two tremendous guys, great leaders, and I'm honored to be mentioned in the same breath as them. When Onsen resigned, you could equate it to the Steelers, we had a lot of consistency with them two doing it."
While Hutchings will have large shoes to fill after a long line of strong coaches, he added that he will have a great coaching staff behind him, helping along the way.
"Mark Masters and Adam Troll with the freshmen, and Ryan Bunton and Jim Looper with our sophomores," Hutchings said. "They build relationships with kids, and they are good guys, good leaders. At the varsity level, Francis Loughran will be on board, and he is a student of the game. He is always willing to learn, and it is nice to have those guys on board with me."
Hutchings has plenty of experience as an offensive coordinator, so he intends to play the role, while Loughran will be the defensive coordinator.
"I will probably work on the offensive side, but being the head coach, I want to be involved with defenses and special teams as well," Hutchings said. "We have one position open, so we will fill that and see how it goes. The one thing is, coach Onsen has been defensive coordinator since about '94. He has great defense in mind, so hopefully we will be able to bounce ideas off him."
Hutchings' goals will be to add to what has been established within the program, noting that the foundation has been laid, you just want to build upon that.
While he looks forward to returning to the sideline under those lights on a Friday night, he also looks forward to working with the student athletes, and helping them mature as adults.
"I want to get back with the kids and build those relationships," he said. "Work closely with our coaches, and see our kids grow not only as football players, but community members and solid citizens. That is one thing I look forward to."