PREP FOOTBALL

It takes a family in East Chicago: players, head coach and assistants

2013-11-19T20:45:00Z 2014-06-24T20:06:24Z It takes a family in East Chicago: players, head coach and assistantsSteve Hanlon steve.hanlon@nwi.com, (219) 933-4198 nwitimes.com
November 19, 2013 8:45 pm  • 

In late November of 2010, Fort Wayne Dwenger arrived at Morton for the Class 4A Northern Semistate championship. The rosters, though, had to be extended, in order to fit the Saints' assistant coaches names.

There were 23 names on the list.

On Friday, E.C. Central will travel to Fort Wayne's Zollner Stadium for the same trophy against the same team on the line.

And Cardinals coach Stacy Adams wouldn't trade his five assistant coaches for any other staff in the state. No matter how large or well-dressed they might be.

Hank Kilander is in his eighth season as E.C. coach. Andrew Rooks is in his first. Ban Faulkner is in his fourth. Juda Parks his eighth and Maurice Phillips his third.

Dwenger had two coaches who worked with the kickers in 2010. Two. At East Chicago, they all share responsibilities.

"Our kids don't know about Dwenger's tradition," said Parks, who was also an assistant on E.C.'s 2007 state championship basketball team.

"And if they did, they wouldn't care," Kilander added.

Faulkner, who also coached two years at Portage, is the defensive coordinator. "Except for the West Side game," he joked. He said this senior-laden Cardinals team is much different than other E.C. teams in the past.

There's always been sick talent in the Twin Cities. But there's never been a team one game away from the state championship before.

"These kids don't quit," Faulkner said. "They've worked hard and they're still working hard. They don't want this season to end."

There is a very strong camaraderie between Adams and his staff. They all share in the accomplishments this Cards' team has proven. They joke around with each and don't take themselves too seriously.

Except in the game of football.

"Go take their picture so I can finally coach this team the way I want," Adams joked with a reporter. "These guys work so well together. They keep the kids up. If someone had a bad day, one of our guys will take him to Taco Bell and help him feel better.

"That's how it's gone here. We are a family. We all work together."

In last Friday's regional against New Prairie, Cardinals' kicker Daniel Flores had missed missed three extra points. When New Prairie missed its extra point in overtime and E.C. scored, Adams told Kilander to go talk to Flores.

"He told me I would make it," Flores said.

"I trusted both of them," Adams said. "They both had their jobs to do."

Rooks is in his first year on the staff. He joked that he coaches math. But he gave big credit to the staff and what they've done to make this season happen.

"If we make a mistake, and we do like everyone else, these guys don't get down on our players," Rooks said. "They pick them up. They dust them off. They tell them they can do it.

"We have a great group of players but these guys and Stacy have helped this kids to play like they never have before."

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