Mike Fitzgerald and his family on the Marist football field when Fitzgeralds' York Dukes visited the Mount Greenwood school for a Class 8A playoff game in November 2022 when he coached at York. Photo courtesy of Mike Fitzgerald

Mike Fitzgerald and his family on the Marist football field when Fitzgeralds' York Dukes visited the Mount Greenwood school for a Class 8A playoff game in November 2022 when he coached at York. Photo courtesy of Mike Fitzgerald

Area Sports Roundup | Marist tabs Mike Fitzgerald to lead football program

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By Jeff Vorva
Correspondent

There is a change at the top.

Mike Fitzgerald, who over the past six seasons helped build York into a Class 8A power, has been named Marist’s new football coach. Fitzgerald replaces Ron Dawczak, who resigned.

Marist announced the hire on Jan. 8.

Fitzgerald is a former RedHawks assistant. He led the Dukes to the Class 8A semifinals each of the past two seasons. In 2022, Fitzgerald and York beat Marist, 27-21, in the Class 8A quarterfinals on a cold November day in Chicago.

“Coach Mike Fitzgerald brings to Marist a wealth of experience and success as he takes over as head football coach,” Marist President Larry Tucker said in a news release. “Coach Fitzgerald is no stranger to Marist, having been an innovative offensive coordinator under head coach Pat Dunne, where he was part of many wins and our 2009 state championship game appearance.”

Tucker thanked Dawczak, who compiled a 56-24 record in seven years. Tucker said Dawczak, during his time as an assistant and later head coach, was a part of more wins than any coach in the 60-year history of the RedHawks’ football program.

“It was more than the wins,” Tucker said. “Ron cared deeply about his players and assisting their character development. We are glad coach Dawczak will continue on as a teacher and role model here at Marist High School.”

Fitzgerald kick-started a York program that had not had a winning season since 2011, racking up a 43-17 record over six seasons — including 31-5 the past three years.

“While I was not looking for, nor expecting, to move from York, this offer was something I had to consider, especially with my past experience and relationship with both the school and the community,” Fitzgerald said in a news release.  “This is a special and unique opportunity for both myself and my family and I can’t wait to get started.”

Fitzgerald also had a head coaching stint at Wheaton St. Francis and was an assistant at Naperville North.

Dawczak said he is looking forward to watching the RedHawks in the new Fitzgerald era.

“He’s one of the top coaches in Illinois,” Dawczak said. “He’s a tremendous leader and I look forward to enjoying the success of Marist as I move into the next chapter of my life with my wife and three children.”

DAWZ scaled

Ron Dawczak stepped down as Marist football coach. Photo by Jeff Vorva

All-American bowler
Chicago Christian alum Brianna Andrew was named to Team USA’s bowling team after qualifying in the USA team trials in Las Vegas.

The Orland Park native, who is living in Grand Rapids, Michigan, has come a long way to reach this team.

“If you would have told me a year ago that I would be making Team USA in 2024, I would have laughed,” Andrew said in in a Facebook post. “Every failure, frustration, setback, doubt and the days I wanted to quit led to this.

“Don’t let anyone tell you you are not capable. Hard work does pay off. It just needs to be intentional an surrounded by people who care deeply about you and fuel the fire to get you there.”

 

On to sectionals
The first winter sport to open the postseason was boys bowling, and Oak Lawn and Lyons captured regional championships. The wins marked the third regional title in Spartans history and seventh in Lions history.

Oak Lawn won its own regional on Jan. 13 with a 6,298 pins. The Spartans were led by senior Sam Bergamo (1,357). Brother Rice, led by junior Jeremy Gasca (1,297) finished third. Both teams will head to the Sandburg Sectional at Palos Lanes in Palos Hills on Jan. 20.

Lyons, led by junior Danny Haley (1,285), won the Hinsdale South Regional. Reavis took second with 5,799 pins, and Rams senior Pablo Medina won the individual title (1,325). St. Laurence, led by junior Jake Meyers (1,252) took third. The three bowlers will compete in the Sandburg Sectional.

At the Joliet West Regional, Sandburg took second place to advance to its own sectional. Senior Woody Dangerfield (1,266) led the Eagles.

At the Glenbard East Regional, Morton took second. The Mustangs were led by sophomore Desmond Zuro (1,268). Morton will compete at the Warren Sectional.

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