Teonic leaving Larkin for South Elgin

 
 
Updated 6/22/2018 5:30 PM
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  • Dragan Teonic, right, is leaving his post as head football coach at Larkin for the same job at South Elgin.

      Dragan Teonic, right, is leaving his post as head football coach at Larkin for the same job at South Elgin. John Starks | Staff Photographer

Dragan Teonic is on the move.

Teonic, 38, was hired by South Elgin High School Friday as its new head football coach to replace Pat Pistorio, who accepted a position at Niles North last month.

Teonic leaves Larkin, where he was head coach the past four seasons.

"It's a crazy turn of events. It all happened kind of fast," Teonic said. "Pat's a guy I consider a friend of mine. When he left to Niles North, that's when my head started to spin about this possibility. I think it's the premier job in U-46. I reached out to them and we quickly got the process rolling. I'm really excited."

Teonic's first two teams at Larkin went 0-9 and 1-8. His past two teams went 4-5.

Before coaching at Larkin, Teonic spent four seasons at Hersey. There he inherited a team that finished 1-8 and turned it into a playoff qualifier four years later.

He was the head coach at Harper College for two seasons, culminating in the 2008 NJCAA title, and spent time as an assistant at Riverside-Brookfield and York.

He takes over a program at South Elgin that won the Upstate Eight Valley and made the playoffs two of the past three seasons.

"He's the right coach at the right time," South Elgin athletic director Jason Ward said. "We watched him over the years at Larkin and his years at Hersey. He turned both of those programs around.

"With a program like ours, it's just a match made in heaven. What coach Pistorio has started with us I believe Dragan will continue on and get us deeper into the playoffs. He's a great coach, a great offensive-minded coach."

Teonic will remain a physical education teacher at Larkin until a teaching position opens at South Elgin. He pointed to facilities and the program's potential as prime reasons for the move.

"It's the largest high school and the premier school in U-46," he said. "It has tremendous resources, really good coaches, amazing administrative support. When you look at it as a coach and ask where can I get the most done, I'd say South Elgin is the best place to be. There's some really good, young talent, coming in, there's a feeder system in place and Pat did such a wonderful job of setting up the program. I have so much respect for what he's done.

"It's a bittersweet feeling, though, because I've put sweat equity and love into those Larkin kids. This is tough. It's a tough situation because I really believe in them and I believe in that group. They've been so, so good to me that I want what's best for them. The Larkin kids are poised to have one heck of a season.

"I'm sad to go, but at the same time I'm really excited about the new group of kids and the potential at South Elgin. I just think in the long run, this is a great opportunity that I couldn't pass up."

Larkin athletic director Ethan Karolczak was unavailable and could not immediately return calls for comment.

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