Hoffman Estates football coach Bill Helzer is hoping this year's decision not to field a sophomore team is only a one-year necessity.
Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer
Hoffman Estates football coach Bill Helzer saw the warning signs when only 26 freshmen finished the season last year.
The normal attrition, a couple of player moves and a couple of eligibility issues resulted in low numbers that forced Hoffman to cancel its sophomore schedule for this season.
"We probably could have rolled out a team but it wouldn't have done anybody any good," Helzer said. "I didn't want to do it but we had to finally make the decision to give everybody time (to find other opponents) and not string it out and play it by ear."
Last year, injuries and low numbers forced Rolling Meadows to cancel the final seven games of its sophomore schedule.
Helzer said even though Hoffman has nearly 20 sophomores on its varsity roster at least six wouldn't have been eligible to play right away because they didn't meet the IHSA-required amount of practice time.
While Hoffman's freshman numbers are up to 52 this year, Helzer didn't think it was best for the program's development to bring a large number up to the sophomore level.
"Hopefully it's a one-and-done thing and with 52 freshmen we should be fine," Helzer said. "We're trying to build confidence and not tear it down.
"It was a tough decision and nobody wanted to make it, but hopefully the (juniors and sophomores) will get some quality time playing JV games and get better."
Some of Hoffman's opponents have scheduled sophomore games and include Conant playing Hampshire and Schaumburg playing McHenry.
Brothers in coaching: Matt Mishler and Steve Kolodziej are brothers-in-law who could also be considered brothers-in-arms as former quarterbacks at Hoffman Estates and Schaumburg respectively.
Now they are brothers in coaching. After Mishler took over at Rolling Meadows he brought Kolodziej over from Buffalo Grove to become his offensive coordinator.
When Kolodziej was a freshman playing at Illinois State a decade ago his sister married Mishler.
"It's been a great experience so far," Kolodziej said. "It was one of those things where if either of us gets a head coaching job, let's coach together.
"We're extremely close. It's an opportunity to work with family and Matt and I are very similar in how we do things."
Kolodziej was the offensive coordinator at BG last year and said head coach Jim Farrell knew what was going to happen when Mishler was hired at Meadows.
"It was tough to leave BG and I appreciated and respected all of the opportunities Jim and Rich (former head coach Roberts) gave me," Kolodziej said. "It's an opportunity for me to continue to grow. Professionally it was the right move but personally it was hard because I put in a lot of time over there.
"There's something different about working with family and we're both on the same page."
Although some family members may wish Mishler and Kolodziej were on a different page at times.
"Thanksgiving, Christmas and birthdays, we're talking Xs and Os," Kolodziej said with a laugh. "Our wives don't like it too much."
Bears award program grows: The Bears have been selecting a high-school coach of the week since 1996.
Now they have added the "BP High School Player of the Week." The player chosen will receive $1,000 to give to the youth program of his choice and will be honored at a Bears game.
The Bears said they have donated more than $175,000 to high school programs since their "Coach of the Week" program began.
Big events upcoming: While opening night brings plenty of excitement, there are games in the next few weeks that will also have a lot of hoopla.
In Week 2, Fremd will celebrate its 50th anniversary by honoring some of the greatest players in school history when it hosts Prospect. Barrington will honor those with military ties with its "Military Appreciation Night" when its hosts Elk Grove and Wheeling will unveil its new field turf when it hosts Conant.
In Week 3, Hersey plays on its new turf for the first time against Barrington.