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."

96 Days to Kickoff: Jacobs

96 Days to Kickoff: Jacobs 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 July 30, we'll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

School: Jacobs

Head coach: Bill Mitz

Assistant coaches: Bubba Smith, Mike Warren, Brian Zimmerman, JM Foote, Ryan Arndt and Bob Mackey

How they fared in 2017: 6-4 (5-3 Fox Valley Conference). Jacobs made the Class 7A playoff field. The Golden Eagles lost to Lincoln-Way West in opening round action. 

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 Hampshire 

Aug. 31 @ Huntley 

Sept. 7 Dundee-Crown 

Sept. 14 @ McHenry 

Sept. 21 Neuqua Valley 

Sept. 28 Prairie Ridge 

Oct. 5 @ Cary-Grove 

Oct. 12 Crystal Lake South 

Oct. 19 @ Crystal Lake Central

Biggest storyline: Can the Golden Eagles move up in the Fox Valley Conference pecking order in 2018?

Names to watch this season: OT Joacheim Price and OL Nick Zonta

Biggest holes to fill: The Golden Eagles will need to replace its entire starting linebacker group from a season ago.

EDGY's Early Take: Year in and year out, Jacobs is always a factor in the rugged Fox Valley Conference (seven playoff appearances in the last eight years). The Golden Eagles return some starters in several key spots. If the underclassmen group can step up this summer, look for Jacobs to challenge for the FVC conference title and a higher seed in 7A come IHSA playoff time. 

97 Days to Kickoff: Back of the Yards

97 Days to Kickoff: Back of the Yards 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 July 30, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPreps Top 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

School: Back of the Yards

Head coach: Sheamus Murphy

Assistant Coaches: Will Johnson, Marty McNamara, Tim McNamara and Nick Teich

How they fared in 2017: 8-2 (6-0 CPL Great Lakes Conference). Back of the Yards made the Class 5A state playoff field. They lost to Solorio in opening round action. 

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Week 1: @ Kelly

Week 2: vs. Goode

Week 3: @ Brooks

Week 4: vs. Schurz

Week 5: vs. Kenwood

Week 6: vs. North Lawndale

Week 7: @ Steinmetz

Week 8: vs. Payton Prep

Week 9: @ Clark

Biggest storyline: The Bobcats were a true feel-good story last season. Can the Bobcats build on its momentum and success going into the 2018 campaign?

Names to watch this season: OL/Dl Kevin Pacheco, WR/DB Carl McNickles, OL Armando Resendiz

Biggest holes to fill: The Bobcats bring back several returning starters from last season; however, can they find a new signal caller to replace the graduation loss of 2017 standout QB Jeremiah Harris (McKendree College)? 

EDGY's Early Take: One of the top stories from the 2017 season was the rise of this young program. The Bobcats made the IHSA state playoff field in just their third season of varsity football. As for 2018? The expectations have risen for this South Side school. A move to the CPL Illini Prairie State conference ramps up the overall competition level. If the Bobcats can find a steady signal caller, they have solid chance at competing for a potential IHSA state playoff spot come October.