Grant hires D-C's Andriola

Vito Andriola came to Dundee-Crown three years ago, embracing the challenge of reviving a program that had not been to the football playoffs in its current players’ lifetimes.

On Thursday, a teary-eyed Andriola, five months after taking the Chargers to their first playoff appearance since 1994, told his player he was leaving the program to take another coaching job. At the time of the team meeting, Andriola could not say which school because Grant’s District 124 school board was to meet four hours later.

The board made it official Thursday night, approving Andriola as the Bulldogs' new football coach.

Andriola was 9-19 in three seasons with the Chargers, who had won six games combined in the five seasons previous to his arrival. They were 6-4 last season, losing in the first round of the Class 8A playoffs to Oak Park-River Forest, 35-13.

“Dundee-Crown has been a great experience,” Andriola said. “I love our kids, they’re great kids with great work ethic, it was a very hard decision. This has more to do with Grant than [anything lacking] at Dundee-Crown. The opportunity came and I talked to the people [at Grant]. They’re very committed to athletics and it got me excited about the decision.”

Andriola also will teach at Grant, but does not yet know what subject it will be.

“We are extremely excited to have Vito join our staff,” Grant athletic director Dick Knar said in a press release. “He has a great passion for not only football, but the development of student-athletes here at Grant High School. His vision for the continued success of our program is what impressed us the most. We want to play a significant role in the state of Illinois as a football program.”

Defensive back-running back Malik Dunner said players had heard rumblings over the past two weeks that something might happen.

“It’s kind of disappointing,” Dunner said. “But I guess he had his reasons. I can’t blame him for that. He seemed like he didn’t want to leave, but he had to do it. He told us it wasn’t us, which I’m positive it wasn’t us.”

D-C has won six combined games in the five seasons previous to Andriola’s arrival. They were 9-19 in his three years, but the playoff appearance in 19 seasons was remarkable.

“It’s kind of sad, kind of upsetting to see the looks on some players’ faces,” senior safety Sam Franckowiak said. “I understand he felt he had to go. He’s given a lot to the school. I’m going to remember how much he helped me become the individual I am off the field. If I needed someone to talk to, he’d be there to help me out.”

Andriola’s passion carried over to his players after he came to D-C. In his second season, D-C started 3-1, but stumbled in its last five games. Still, the Chargers had started to turn things in the right direction. Last season, even with star running back Cody Lane missing the season after a knee injury, D-C had its best season in 19 years.

“He’s a great guy. He coached us really hard,” Dunner said. “He was my P.E. teacher last semester and he talked football all the time. I still think he’s a great guy, this doesn’t change my opinion of him. He’s a great guy to be around.”

Andriola coached as an assistant at Woodstock for 14 years before taking the head coaching job at Grayslake. He was there five seasons and had some of the Rams’ best teams in school history. He worked as an assistant at Glenbrook South for six years before taking the head coaching job at D-C.

Bulldogs coach Kurt Rous resigned after last season. Grant has been to the playoffs seven of the last nine years.

“It was hard today. I’m going to miss those guys, and Dundee-Crown is going to be good next year,” Andriola said. “Our senior class led well and they knew their roles. Our younger guys got to see that and emulate those things. I hope they win six or seven games and make the playoffs and win a playoff game.”