Preps Talk

COD head football coach Foster fights for junior college ball


COD head football coach Foster fights for junior college ball

Junior college football, especially here in the state of Illinois, has been in a steady state of decline over the past several years.

No one knows this better than Matt Foster, the College of DuPage head football coach. Foster, a teacher at Wheaton North and former head football coach of the Falcons varsity program, decided a few years ago that keeping the opportunity of playing at the junior college level was to become Foster's new coaching passion.

"This is my mission," Foster said while talking about why he decided to jump back into the junior college level after successful coaching stops at both the high school and college level. "This is where my heart is and that goes for my entire coaching staff here at COD. I know that we can be a real game changer for kids and that's what motivates everyone here."

One of the prime examples of Matt Foster and his staff's mission is former Minooka -- and now Texas Tech Class of 2015 signee -- Paul Stawarz (6-foot-5, 280 pounds). Offensive tackle Stawarz, who was a late academic qualifier in his senior year at Minooka, decided to buy into Foster's mission and message.

"I can never thank the coaches at COD enough," Stawarz said. "I was a kid coming out of high school who just didn't take things too seriously. I was overweight in high school, never really worked too hard and that also went for the classroom.

"I was that kid that Coach Foster talks about all the time who took advantage of a second chance with the College of DuPage. I just decided to stop playing around because Juco ball was no joke. It was the eye opener that I needed and I just woke up and decided to do something positive with my opportunity."

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The College of DuPage remains the only junior college in Illinois to offer football. The Chaparrals play a full season of games against other junior college teams from Iowa and Ohio as well as games against various NCAA D-3 schools.

"The travel really hasn't been too bad at all for us, and we also get to play against some great competition," Foster said. "Our goal is to win as many games as possible, but I have a staff in place (which includes former head coaches in Lake Park's Andy Livingston and Simeon's Jesse Chick) that also can see the bigger picture. It's all about putting the finishing touches on kids who have a chance to move on to the next level."

Yet the Chapparal coaches have also discovered that its mission goes well beyond the football field.

"Our mission also has to do with much more than just football. We have kids every year who have two years to figure it all out. Some move on and play football after they leave us but we also have guys who just find themselves and find a path and a new direction in life. If we can't offer those kids these opportunities, then where do they go? That's why I'm here and that's why my staff is also here at the College of DuPage. We believe in keeping those opportunities available for kids."

Warren's Willis Singleton Jr. commits to Iowa State


Warren's Willis Singleton Jr. commits to Iowa State

Warren Township 3-star ranked senior defensive tackle Willis Singleton Jr. (6-foot-2, 285 pounds) announced his college decision today and gave Iowa State his verbal commitment. Singleton Jr. who ended up with 20 scholarship offers this summer discussed his decision.

"Iowa State was my first Power 5 offer," Singleton Jr. said. "We kept just building up our relationship and it just became bigger and bigger. I was able to pick up some big Power 5 offers late (including Illinois and Michigan State) but it was never about the name or the hype for me. It's always been about the relationships for me and I have that with Iowa State."

Singleton Jr. was able to visit the Ames, Iowa, school multiple times before. That familiarity with the coaches and the players was also a big factor in his decision.

"Isaiah Lee (current Iowa State and former Nazareth Academy defensive linemen) was a big help for me with just getting it straight from him on everything at Iowa State and I've known Isaiah for awhile now," Singleton Jr. said. "I've spent a lot of time at Iowa State around the coaches and the players and more than once I was there more than 24 hours just getting to know them. I just felt like Iowa State was the place for me in my heart in the end and Iowa State is the place for me."

Singleton Jr. had narrowed down his final list of schools to the Cyclones along with Illinois, Michigan State, Cincinnati and Louisville.

46 Days to Kickoff: Downers Grove North

46 Days to Kickoff: Downers Grove North preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting Aug. 5, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 30.

School: Downers Grove North

Head coach: Joe Horeni

Assistant coaches: Keith Litchenberg, Bill Kleckner, Terry Kent, Chad Isaacason, Josh Croci, Todd Cassens, Chris Guerreri, Mike Franzese, Kyle Briscoe, Greg Purnell, Pat Fleming and Max Gilbert

How they fared in 2018: 4-5 (2-4 West Suburban Silver Conference) Downers North failed to qualify for the IHSA state football playoff field.

2019 regular season schedule:

Aug. 30 @ Buffalo Grove

Sept. 6 vs Addison Trail

Sept. 13 vs York

Sept. 20 @ Proviso West

Sept. 27 @ Hinsdale Central

Oct. 4 vs Glenbard West

Oct. 11 @ OPRF

Oct. 18 vs Lyons Township

Oct. 25 @ Downers Grove South

Biggest storyline: The Trojans missed a winning season (and possibly a playoff berth) in a heartbreaking loss to York in last year’s season finale. Can the motivated Trojans get over the top this season and into the IHSA state playoff field?

Names to watch this season: QB Drew Cassens (Sr.) and S Mark Dennison (Sr.)

Biggest holes to fill: The Trojans welcome back 13 returning starters (six offense, seven defense) this season, but they will be a bit inexperienced on the defensive line this fall. 

EDGY's Early Take: Downers Grove North came within a few plays of making the IHSA state football playoffs last season, which included close losses to OPRF (21-14) and York (14-7). The Trojans, guided by head coach Joe Horeni, welcome back several key names from the 2018 season including senior QB Drew Cassens. A big key for the Trojans this season will be getting off to a good start before hitting a very tough middle portion of the regular season schedule.