Thornton Township head football coach Bill Mosel, who is also the school's athletic director, announced last week (with little fanfare) that he would be stepping down from his coaching position after 29 years leading the Wildcats.
I first ran into Bill Mosel in the stands while scouting a Lincoln-Way Knights game (only one school way back when; it’s now Lincoln-Way Central). I had no idea that I would end up covering him and befriending him over the past 20-plus years. Mosel was — and remains — a humble high school football coach who loves the game, who would go to games all over the state including his annual trip to the IHSA state football finals. Needles to say, we have a few things in common, most importantly high school football.
Mosel, an Eisenhower High School graduate, coached Thornton Township for 29 seasons. He posted a 195-105 overall record, leading the Wildcats to the 1990 Class 6A state football title. Mosel also sent hundreds of student athletes to play college football. Included in those numbers are about a dozen of former Wildcats who played in the NFL. Antwaan Randle El, Napoleon Harris and Tai Streets are just a few of the thousands of players who Mosel coached and guided during his career at the Harvey-based school. Ironically, the new head coach for the Wildcats will be Dontrell Jackson — a former Wildcat quarterback. The Wildcats program figures to remain in very good hands.
While the wins and the names are impressive to say the least, my favorite memories from the Bill Mosel Era have very little to do with being on the field.
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I'll always remember the first time he gave me a tour of the Lou Boudreau Room inside of the Wildcats field house. The Boudreau Room, named after one of Thornton Township's most famous alumus — the Hall of Fame baseball player and major league manager — is a well-kept history of everything Thornton sports dating back to early 1900s. Mosel took immediate pride in showing off the history, a pride that was always reflected in his team and his program year in and year out.
Another favorite time of mine was National Signing Day. It was always a special day for Mosel, his coaches and players’ families. Mosel would make sure to include every single player who was expected to play in college as a part of the day, no matter which level the kids would play in college. When it came to college football and recruiting, nobody worked harder for his kids and went above and beyond more than Mosel. He would get coaches from across the country each and every year into his school. Every college coach who made the visit to Thornton left with an abundance of information.
But the one lasting impression that will always stay with me? Watching him, a macho, tough-guy football coach, grabbing the hand of one captain on each side and then walking his team hand in hand onto the field. It was a sight that you just never, ever expected. It's also a sight that I know I'll miss starting in 2015.
Knowing Mosel as long as I have, I also have a feeling he's not done coaching football. Mosel has it in his veins. While this large chapter of his career is coming to an end, the overall story I feel is still not finished just yet.