Gehrig returning to Larkin as head football coach
Larkin athletic director Ethan Karolczak sought a coach to stabilize a football program in flux.
He turned to a familiar face to Larkin fans.
Matt Gehrig, who coached the Royals in 2008 and 2009 and coached Huntley in 2010 and 2011, accepted an offer Monday to return to the Larkin sideline and teach Physical Education.
He replaces Ron Planz, who took the vacant Lake Zurich job on May 22.
"I'm excited," Gehrig said Tuesday. "Obviously, I wanted to have an opportunity to take a head coaching job again so I decided to apply when I heard that Ron Planz was leaving. I'm just excited to work with the kids there and get started."
Gehrig, 39, becomes Larkin's fifth head football coach in less than a calendar year. Dragan Teonic left after four seasons to become South Elgin's head coach on June 22, 2018.
The school announced the promotion of former assistant coach Jesus "Zeus" Gonzalez on July 12, but his tenure ended in the second week of the regular season with a suspension. He never coached again and was eventually let go for reasons the Elgin Area School District U-46 has refused comment on, citing personnel matters.
Offensive coordinator Jason Aubry took over and led the Royals to a 4-5 finish, matching the Royals' best record since Gehrig's 2009 team finished 5-4. Aubry departed in December to become head coach at Concordia University where his son, Jaxon, will play next fall.
Larkin hired Planz, the former Elmhurst College coach of five years, on Feb. 7. Planz was lured away two weeks ago by state power Lake Zurich.
Karolczak said he did not blame Aubry or Planz for decisions they felt were best for their families and careers. "You can never hold that against somebody," he said. "I wish them nothing but the best."
Nevertheless, the qualities he sought in Larkin's next coach differed this time around.
"At the end of the day, this hire was about the longevity and the sustainability of this program with everything that's happened in the last year," Karolczak said. "First and foremost, Matt's a teacher. Everyone I talked to about him talked about how great he is at taking complex things and breaking them down and communicating them effectively to people. That's something we need.
"And we were really impressed by his vision for righting the ship and stabilizing things. The more you talk to him the more you realize he's the kind of guy kids are going to be excited to play for."
Gehrig has served as an assistant coach at three schools since his time at Huntley. He assisted for one season at St. Charles East, two at Dundee-Crown and the last four at South Elgin.
The 1997 Burlington Central graduate was twice named all-conference and all-area. He started at guard and center for three seasons at Eastern Illinois between 1997-2000 and was named all-Ohio Valley Conference in 2000.
Gehrig and his wife, Kristin, live in Sycamore with sons Peter, 10, Benjamin, 8, and John, 6.