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Joe O'Connell resigns as River Forest football coach

Joe O'Connell resigns as River Forest football coach

Joe O'Connell

Joe O'Connell, left, resigned as the River Forest football coach on Tuesday.

River Forest will have a new leader on the gridiron in the fall.

Joe O'Connell announced Tuesday that he has resigned as the Ingots football coach and will join Crown Point's coaching staff.

"These last three years are three that I will always remember as I look back on my coaching career; they were some of my most memorable," O'Connell wrote in a statement. "I am extremely proud of the accomplishments that we have achieved in our time together, and I will be keeping track every week to watch this program continue to grow."

O'Connell went 14-17 during his three seasons at River Forest. In his first year, the Ingots finished 2-8 before going 6-5 in 2019 and 6-4 in 2020, marking the program's first back-to-back winning campaigns since 2000-01.

Prior to his tenure at River Forest, the 2000 Lowell grad and former quarterback was the offensive coordinator at Merrillville from 2012-2017. O'Connell will be the passing game coordinator at Crown Point under new coach Craig Buzea, who was hired in January.

Buzea is wrapping up his final season at Homewood-Flossmoor in Illinois this spring and previously coached at Michigan City and Portage. He guided the Indians to a Class 5A state runner-up finish in 1994.

O'Connell said the two of them "crossed paths" during football clinics and share mutual friends who are coaches.

"The decision to leave for Crown Point wasn’t an easy one," O'Connell wrote. "I took a lot of time deciding this. In the end, being able to coach in the community I live in and where my kids go to school was something I couldn’t pass up."

Gallery: Lake Station at River Forest football


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Lake County Sports Reporter

James Boyd is the Lake County prep sports reporter for The Times. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a proud native of Romeoville, Illinois. Before anything else, his main goal in life is to spread love and light.

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