Count junior cornerback Owen Goss among the players who are excited Brian Griffin is officially Hinsdale Central’s new football coach.
Griffin recently was named the Red Devils’ interim football coach, but the “interim” tag was removed with District 86 school board approval on Wednesday.
“He’s been kind of a mentor since I got brought up to varsity as a sophomore, and he’s always making sure I’m being a leader and just being a good person, not only in the aspect of football,” said Goss, who lives in Hinsdale. ”He’s just an extremely passionate coach. He loves the game, and he likes making us the best we can be.”
Griffin has a simple, key message for his players, but it also extends to assistant coaches, parents and anyone else connected to the program.
“It has to be our agenda,” said Griffin, a 2003 Hinsdale Central graduate who replaces his mentor, Dan Hartman. “For whoever is involved in the program, or whatever their capacity is in the program, we’re all in this together. It has to be our communal success.”
Now that he is officially the head coach, the biggest change for Griffin will be the emphasis on the small details that come with running a high school football program.
For that, he is thankful he got the chance to learn under Hartman, who left Hinsdale Central for Lyons amid uncertainty about the future of the program with a $140 million referendum in the balance. The football program was suspended for the winter, and Griffin was named the interim head coach shortly after District 86 reinstated the program on April 3, a day after the referendum passed.
“No detail is too small,” Griffin said. “If you want to have a successful program, you have to be concerned with the big stuff and the little stuff. You want to make sure the kids are dressed the same in 7-on-7 (scrimmages) in the summer and on Friday nights in the fall.”
He’ll also have to hire several assistants, and the vetting process for that will commence immediately, with the season only four months away.
What does he look for in an assistant?
“Really, kind of two aspects,” he said. “Coaching is teaching, and if we have a successful year but have a bunch of athletes who aren’t positive influences on the school and the community, we’ve missed the mark. That’s my number one, we share a coaching vision, and then you want coaching IQ, which is important.”
After all the uncertainty during the winter, Hinsdale Central athletic director Dan Jones is pleased Griffin is now the head coach, and not only because of his qualifications.
Griffin earned all-conference and all-state honors his senior season at Hinsdale Central and helped lead the Red Devils to the Class 8A state semifinals. Today, Griffin is a math teacher at the school, which is where he met his wife, Kelly. They have three children under the age of 4 and live in Downers Grove.
“It’s great to have a Red Devil take over for his alma mater,” Jones said. “Even former players have reached out to me to say how motivated they are to see him take over.”
Goss and the whole incoming senior class are pretty pumped, too.
“I’m optimistic about our team and the ceiling we have,” he said. “After the controversy (with) the referendum, people are saying Hinsdale isn’t going to be good at all. We’ve got to go out and do the best we can.”
Gregg Voss is a freelance reporter for Pioneer Press.
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