EAST CHICAGO — Dave Grabczak is Hobart football. Plain and simple. He is a Brickie.

Like the steelworkers in the stands and the players on the football field, Grabczak bleeds purple and gold.

But on Aug. 17 standing in his classroom at Hobart High School, Grabczak suffered a severe heart attack. He had to be brought back several times in the school and on his way to the hospital.

Hobart's defensive coordinator is still recovering at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

"Dave loves shutouts," Hobart coach Ryan Turley said after Saturday's 40-0 win over E.C. Central. "Now we get to take him another one."

Grabczak was a captain on Hobart's 1989 state championship football team. After college, he returned home and has been coaching in the program ever since.

All of Hobart's players have the initials "D.G." on the back side of their helmets this season as they dedicate the campaign to their beloved coach.

"You can't plan for something like this," Turley said. "We're just thankful it happened at the school. There were a lot of good people there who could help him."

Sam Hicks is a senior defensive back for The Times No. 6 Brickies (3-1). After crushing West Side 49-0 last Friday, it was another resounding defensive effort for the Bricks. They held the Cards (1-3) to 6 yards of rushing on 25 attempts. E.C. did have 53 yards through the air, but 22 yards came in the fourth quarter when the No. 2s and 3s were on the field.

"My mom went to high school with coach Dave and our families are really close," Hicks said. "It was a tough loss for the team. We've done everything we can for him, we've all prayed.

"It was devastating. He cared so much for our program. Every time we take the field we are playing for him."

Hicks said Grabczak has been battling the flu so none of the players have been able to go and see him. But several have written him letters.

From the heart.

"It was a tough for all of us," senior linebacker Jordan Kraft said. "We've tried to come together. We play for him. He's been the vocal point of our defense for a long time."

On the field it was all Brickies, start to finish.

Hicks opened the scoring on a 14-yard run at 6:49 of the first quarter. After a bad punt snap by the Cards, Sam Erlich hit Chris Tyler on 25-yard scoring pass at 4:15. In the second quarter, Hobart's Drake Recio recovers a fumble at E.C.'s 12 and Sal Valle took it in on the next play.

Valle scored from 6 out at 7:34 of the third quarter giving Hobart a 34-0 lead. And DJ Lipke scored from 2 out in the third quarter to finish off the scoring.

"Our guys played hard," Turley said. "Now we've got a short week to get ready for Andrean. We're starting conference play so we need to get ready."

The Cardinals have scored 13 points in their three losses to T.F. South, Munster and Hobart.

"Our inexperience is showing on both sides of the ball," E.C. coach Jay Novak said. "They are real strong up front and we had trouble moving them. We're building things here. We've got to stay together.

"Good things are coming."


Steve has won awards during two different stints at The Times. In addition to being the Prep Beat columnist, he covers football, boys basketball and boys track. He is a long-suffering Cubs fan.