Giants' Kopp ready to lead his alma mater
Highland Park High School announced June 6 that alumnus Anthony Kopp would take over the Giants football program.
Obviously, he was overjoyed and he continues to be overjoyed.
"It's definitely special. I think it's something that every coach wants to do, dreams of. I certainly couldn't imagine doing it at any other school."
Since he graduated from Illinois Wesleyan after four playing years of baseball and his first two years also playing football, he hasn't had to go anywhere else.
A former Central Suburban League North all-conference quarterback in high school, Kopp had been with the Giants as an assistant coach since 2013. The last four seasons he's been the varsity offensive coordinator, a responsibility he'll retain as head coach.
Kopp succeeded David Lindquist, who resigned after last season. It's been smooth sailing.
"Most of our staff stayed, so it wasn't really too much of a difference," Kopp said. "We all have worked together for many years, so we were just able to hop right into it."
That sounds like Highland Park's Class of 2024, hopping right into it.
Last season the Giants just missed the playoffs, going 4-5 overall, with 12 sophomore starters. Of the 30 players listed on a preliminary varsity roster, 21 are juniors, 8 are seniors and there's sophomore Ayden Sjoberg.
"It's definitely nice to come into a year where you have a lot of returning starters," Kopp said.
Three of those juniors were named all-conference last fall, at key positions: quarterback David Finfer, linebacker Tyler Gleyzer and running back Nikko Rosenbloom.
Kopp said that last season Finfer sprinted out of the gate by passing for at least 200 yards in each of his first three games. He's also a threat running the football. Finfer will target returning receivers Nicholas Blumer, Andrew Cortes and Emmet Pulte.
"He showed a lot of leadership over the summer and so far this year," Kopp said of the quarterback. "He's really taken over for us."
Rosenbloom, a wrestler who brings that toughness, will follow offensive linemen such as Larry Jenkins, Davis Risko-Juarez and Eli Secher. Kopp said another junior, John Walker, is a "skill player at everything" -- running back, receiver, defensive cornerback.
Rosenbloom also will play cornerback on a defense that includes Gleyzer and Jordan Bernstein at linebacker, Asher Stern in the defensive backfield and Josh Pasternak up front.
A strength of this team is "how close they are," Kopp said.
"We went on a trip this summer, just got to be really close, trust what everyone is doing. And the experience, obviously (is key), from having so many starters from last year," he said.