Bartlett tabs Erlenbaugh as new head coach

  • Matt Erlenbaugh, a Buffalo Grove and Western Illinois graduate, is the new football coach at Bartlett High School.

    Matt Erlenbaugh, a Buffalo Grove and Western Illinois graduate, is the new football coach at Bartlett High School. Submitted photo

Updated 6/5/2018 7:36 PM

New Bartlett football coach Matt Erlenbaugh detailed his philosophy and approach during an introductory meet and greet with players and parents at the high school Monday.

The 34-year-old Buffalo Grove and Western Illinois graduate spent the last two seasons as head coach at Chicago Solorio Academy in the Gage Park neighborhood. The Sun Warriors went 7-4 and 8-4 and made the Class 5A playoffs both years.


Erlenbaugh becomes the fourth coach in Bartlett's 20-year history. He replaces Eric Ilich, who was not rehired following the 2017 season. He coached Bartlett to a 6-12 record in two seasons.

"No. 1, I definitely want our kids to get the best education they can, take schooling seriously and set themselves up for success in college," Erlenbaugh told the Daily Herald Tuesday.

"No. 2, I want to make sure we're becoming better men, that we're able to grow, that we're able to self-advocate for ourselves.

"And No. 3, let's be good at the game of football. I want to be safe but I want to be attacking and flying around. We'll be a team that gets after you for four quarters and beats you mentally and physically."

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The hiring ends an exhaustive search that began when the coaching vacancy was posted on Jan. 23. Erlenbaugh did not apply initially because he was content to stay at Solorio, he said. He changed his mind two weeks ago at the encouragement of Riverside-Brookfield coach Brendan Curtin and a friend who happens to work at Bartlett. He will teach Physical Education.

"Matt brings in a good, positive energy," Bartlett athletic director Jeff Bral said. "I'm real excited to see a relationship-oriented guy who has some specific goals. I like that his goals are academics first and social skills number two.

"That football is third doesn't mean it's not a priority, but we want to build the kid first. I like what Matt had to say about the kids being advocates and positive role models and being present in the community."

Football and coaching run in Erlenbaugh's blood. His father, Chuck, played on the same Purdue Rose Bowl team as Bob Griese in 1966 and was an assistant sophomore football coach at Loyola Academy for over 30 years.


Bartlett's new coach became defensive coordinator at Solorio in 2011. He took the same position at Riverside-Brookfield in 2014 before returning to Solorio as head coach in 2016.

Erlenbaugh will complete the school year as a Solorio teacher. Chicago Public Schools remain open until June 18. Thus, Bartlett football summer camp will be held in the evening when it begins next week.

Erlenbaugh inherits a program that will play home games in a new on-campus football stadium currently under construction. The team will compete in a reconstructed Upstate Eight Conference comprised of 10 schools instead of 14. The new coach is itching to get started.

"Everyone told me Bartlett is a community that really cares about football and you could really win over there, so I put in for it," Erlenbaugh said. "I thought I could really help out the program and elevate it."

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