The man whose name is synonymous with Carmel Catholic football has stepped down.
The high school announced Wednesday that Andy Bitto has resigned as head football coach after 20 seasons. He will continue to serve as athletic director.
"We are thankful for Coach Bitto's many years of dedication to the Carmel Catholic football program, and we are pleased that he will continue to serve as athletic director," Carmel President Dr. Brad Bonham said in a statement. "Mr. Bitto will continue to be an integral part of the Carmel Catholic community."
A 1981 graduate of Carmel, where he played football, Bitto is in his 26th year at the Mundelein school.
"I am a lucky coach to have been able to coach so many great kids and work with wonderful coaches," said Bitto, who played college football at Ball State.
Bitto replaced Mike Fitzgibbons as head coach in 1998 and after a pair of 4-win seasons, Carmel began a run of 12 straight state playoff appearances. That included an undefeated campaign in 2003, when the Corsairs won the Class 6A state championship.
This season, however, the Corsairs endured their worst season under Bitto, going 1-8, including 1-6 in the East Suburban Catholic Conference. Eight of their opponents made the state playoffs. It was their fourth playoff miss in the last six years.
Before the season, armed with strong-armed freshman quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis and Western Michigan-bound running back Zaire Barnes, Bitto changed his offense from an option to a spread. The results were mixed, however. The Corsairs scored only 136 points, second fewest in the ESCC. Barnes injured his thumb playing defense in the season opener and didn't make his season debut at running back until Week 6 at Notre Dame -- and that was with a cast on his arm.
Bitto leaves with a 142-79 record and 14 postseason berths. He is the winningest football coach in Carmel history.
"In the long run, my goal is to get kids to do things for other people and not expect anything in return," Bitto said following the loss to Notre Dame that left his team 0-6. "Our kids get it, even though our record stinks. If we were 6-0 and we weren't getting it, I would be very disappointed. I had a team that was 14-0 and I've had teams that were 3-6. Every year, thank God, I've had parents come to me and say, 'My kid got it.' "