Doing the little things results in big success for Hoffman Estates
Coaches in every sport preach to their teams about doing the little things to achieve success.
In high school sports it's difficult at times to get teenagers to buy into doing the little things. Teenagers, understandably, want the bright lights and the glory and they usually don't think much about the little things.
But at Hoffman Estates, the Hawks' football program is all about doing the little things.
"Every coach on this staff stressed the little things during the offseason," said senior quarterback Kyle Krogstad. "Little things like being here every day, paying attention during meetings, doing school homework. It all relays to what goes on out here. You might be having a great day out here but if the little things are off it's a crap week. We always stress the little things and it seems to be working out so we're just riding with it."
And as the Hawks continue to buy into that philosophy, they continue to win. For the second straight season, Hoffman goes into its Week 7 game against Barrington Friday night with a 6-0 record.
But, for a moment, let's flash back to Week 6, last Friday's improbable 47-44 win over Palatine which, by the way, avenged one of Hoffman's two regular-season losses from last year.
The Hawks were down 31-12 at halftime, and even though they mounted a comeback they still trailed 44-33 with 3:23 to play. What happened in the final 3:23 is something second-year head coach Tim Heyse said he'd never been a part of in his playing or coaching career.
Krogstad, who finished the game 26-for-40 for 275 yards, then engineered a drive that culminated with an 18-yard TD pass to Jordan Lane and after the 2-point conversion pass to Lane, the Hawks trailed 44-41 with 1:09 to play.
Bryan Smith then recovered the inevitable onside kick and the Hawks had one last chance to pull out the win.
Krogstad drove Hoffman down the field and on the last play of the game found Lane in the end zone for a 14-yard score and the 47-44 victory.
"That was crazy," Krogstad said this week. "It was insane. I don't have any words for it. At halftime we were down by 19 but in our meeting nobody was really worried. We knew we had to get stops and score but nobody was worried. We knew if the defense could get stops we could go down and score."
"It was mind-blowing knowing that we could do anything and then coming back from being down so many points ... it was crazy," said senior middle linebacker Adam Burks. "Now we just have to have good practices, stay focused, do our jobs and have fun doing it."
Heyse, now 16-3 in his two years at the helm, had seen some crazy games before but ...
"Nothing like that," he said. "Last year in Week 6 we were at Schaumburg and we threw two pick-6s in the first quarter and we were down 17-0 and came back and won. Two years ago against Barrington we had a track meet that ended up being 55-51 or something crazy like that. But nothing like (last Friday)."
Thus, the success continues. And now it's on to Week 7, on the road against a Barrington team that beat the Hawks 47-21 last year, also in Week 7.
But how has this Hoffman program gone from Mid-Suburban West doormat to a team now believing it can win a conference title? Remember, this is a program that between 2001 and 2016 never won more than 4 games in a season and had six 0-9 campaigns in that period. Finally in 2016 the Hawks got over the hump under now-retired coach Mike Donatucci, going 6-4 and making the playoffs for the first time since 1994. Then, last year came a magical ride to a 10-3 season and a trip to the Class 6A semifinals where the Hawks lost to eventual state champion Prairie Ridge.
"I just think the guys who played my eighth grade and freshman year paved the way," said Krogstad, who leads the Northwest suburbs with 1,196 yards passing and 19 TDs this season.
"They really pushed us over the hump. all those guys who left the program 4-5, they're the ones who formed it for us. "Last year's class kept it rolling and now it's our job to keep it going."
Heyse, a Conant grad who has coached football at Hoffman since 2002, says it's all about toughness -- both physical and mental.
"The physical toughness we've been getting better at the last five years," he said, "but we still struggled with the mental toughness part. But our kids are so mentally tough now and it's all about our offseason program. We feel we should win every game and even if we're down nothing phases us. We play whistle-to-whistle, first whistle to last whistle. It's just the mentality. Our slogan is 'tough people win.' "
For Krogstad, who played behind all-state quarterback Austin Coalson the past two years, having a head coach who was a former quarterback himself, has been a big positive.
"I like it a lot," Krogstad said. "I'm with him all day every day. The things he says make sense and the things I say, he understands."
"He's been the backup to an all-stater the last two years," Heyse says of Krogstad. "At times last year it was tough on him having to sit but he was always asking questions. During games he would be in my hip pocket asking 'coach, why did you call that?' He's a student of the game, he's a competitor and he's a very smart kid."
And the leader of a group of Hawks who know that doing the little things will likely lead to big success.