PREP FOOTBALL

John Konecki , Crete-Monee hope to repeat

2013-08-23T18:00:00Z 2013-08-23T19:21:29Z John Konecki , Crete-Monee hope to repeatMike Nieto mike.nieto@nwi.com, (219) 933-3232 nwitimes.com
August 23, 2013 6:00 pm  • 

John Konecki is not ready to stop the world and get off.

The first-year Crete-Monee football coach is just kicking into high gear and like his offense, leaving a trail of vapors.

"It's been a crazy, crazy ride," Konecki said. "We are very blessed to have been so successful."

Last year, as Crete-Monee's offensive coordinator, Konecki wrote on a white board in the Crete-Monee coaches' office:

"State champions"

"World champions"

"National champions"

He accomplished all three with the latter two being as head coach of the Team USA which won the world title, and the Chicago Force, which won the Women's Football Alliance championship. The first one was the Class 6A title that Crete-Monee won at the University of Illinois' Memorial Stadium.

Will his white board have "State Champions" as a fourth entry?

When he took the job in January, Konecki said he was not promising a state title, but "we will try like crazy to win another one."

Coach Jerry Verde built the Warriors into a state power, culminating  with a 33-26 win over Cary-Grove in 2012 with Crete finishing 14-0. Less than a month after wining the school's first team title, Verde left for his alma mater, Marian Catholic. He recommended Konecki for the job and was happy to see his offensive coordinator move up.

"He was a huge factor in the success we had over the last six years, and will continue that tradition we've established," Verde said. "Very few coaches work harder than John. Coaching football is an obsession for him, and it shows in his offensive innovations and preparation."

Moments after a game, you will find Konecki burning DVDs for he, the staff and players to watch. In between bites of the staff's postgame Aurelio's Pizza or burrito from nearby Chuck's Tavern, Konecki is already looking at what can be done better. The coaches take notes and break down their positions.

Konecki had two top receivers in Times Offensive Player of the Year and Male co-Athlete of the Year Laquon Treadwell and Lance Lenoir. He also had a quarterback in Marcus Terrell. Konecki found ways to get the ball to Treadwell, the nation's top prep receiver who is now at Ole Miss, and Lenior, who is at Western Illinois. Terrell is at Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

"It all fell into place,"Konecki said. "You have to give credit to the players and all the coaches, especially Jerry. I learned quite a bit from him."

Konecki said how the program was built makes the job at Crete-Monee a special one for him.

"Every coach ere had a part of it and that is what makes it so special," Konecki said. "We started with Jerry (in 2007) and he had a plan and everyone was on the same page."

Times Defensive Player of the Year Nyles Morgan said while he and his teammates were sad when Verde left, they were happy to see Konecki get the job.

"He relates well to the players and we saw what he did with the offense," Morgan said. "Those numbers (put up by the offense) don't lie. He is an offensive genius."

Konecki could not play varsity football. The 1995 Brother Rice grad had spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the open spaces within the spine, according to mayoclinic.com. It can put pressure on the spinal cord and the nerves that travel through the spine. Spinal stenosis occurs most often in the neck and lower back.

"Sure, it was very disappointing, a big blow, but I never gave up my love for the game," Konecki said. "I didn't dwell on it. I knew I wold like to coach football and one day become a head coach."

Konecki had the opportunity to be under Tom Mitchell at Brother Rice, then when he graduated from Eastern Illinois, he worked under Rich Zinanni at Bishop McNamara, Dave Mattio at Marian and Tom Bailey at Homewood-Flossmoor. He and Verde both coached together at Marian and H-F.

"Tom Bailey taught me a lot about not just football, but how to be a coach," Konecki said. "We would meet on Sunday mornings at a restaurant on Halsted street and go over everything for the week.

"You look at those guys I just mentioned and those are all pretty good football minds, including Jerry."

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