Bitto and Kaliakmanis brothers reunite at Antioch
Freshmen, especially those who don't turn 14 until August, don't start at quarterback for the varsity.
Certainly not under the brights lights of Opening Night.
It rarely happens, anyway.
Andy Bitto took a chance on Athan Kaliakmanis two years ago. And while Carmel Catholic went just 1-8 in 2017, essentially signaling the end of Bitto's long and successful coaching career at his high school alma mater in Mundelein, Kaliakmanis showed off a big arm and the potential that made him a Division-I prospect.
Before the 2018 season rolled around, Bitto was out at Carmel and Kaliakmanis and his brother Dino had transferred to their hometown school, Antioch.
Now, Bitto and the Kaliakmanis brothers are reunited.
Antioch head coach Brian Glashagel has added Bitto to his staff, which is already a who's who of men with hall-of-fame credentials. Bitto is coaching outside linebackers.
Athan Kaliakmanis, who was just 13 when Carmel football practice started in August of 2017, started every game at quarterback for Bitto, who changed his offense from his traditional option to a spread formation. Kaliakmanis completed 86 of 170 passes for 1,032 yards and 4 touchdowns. Dino Kaliakmanis had 20 catches that season.
"It's great," Athan Kaliakmanis said of being on the same sideline with Bitto again. "People say, 'Wouldn't that be hard for you?' But Coach Bitto did a lot of great things for me. He put me in a great position. If I didn't go to Carmel, I don't know if I'd be where I am right now. I think that season is something I should cherish. I don't regret going there. I don't regret the season. I loved every single part of it."
Kaliakmanis, who threw for 2,083 yards and 26 touchdowns in his first year as Antioch's QB last season, and Dino Kaliakmanis, a junior wide receiver, committed to the University of Minnesota in the spring.
Bitto, who was Carmel's head coach for 20 years and won a state championship in 2003, joins a staff that also includes former Lake Zurich head coach David Proffitt (defensive coordinator, safeties), ILB Jim Rejc (inside linebacker, DC for Carmel's 2003 team), Mike Gordy (defensive line) and former Antioch head coach Del Pechauer.
"Poor me," joked Glashagel, who coached on Bitto's staff before taking the Antioch job in 2007. "Our meetings, it's nice. There are suggestions being thrown around.
"Every once in a while, I have to pinch myself," Glashagel added. "When you shake hands with Andy Bitto and Jimmy Rejc ... I'm (leaving Carmel) after 2005 and you always hope we'll coach together again some day, but honestly you never know. It's crazy to think I'm together with those guys. It's so fun."
Week 8 can wait: Antioch, which has gone 7-0 in all three years of the Northern Lake County Conference, visits Lakes on Friday, Oct. 18. Like last year, it will be a Week-8 showdown between the district rivals.
Lakes has lost only three NLCC games, all to Antioch. Lakes head coach Jordan Eder coached the offensive line on Antioch's staff the first year of the NLCC in 2016.
"Obviously there's a lot of talk about a state championship being one of (Antioch's) goals," said Eder, who's an Antioch graduate and whose Eagles nearly upset the Sequoits in the second round of the Class 6A state playoffs last year. "We have the same goal. If you're not shooting for that ...
"You got two good teams and because of where it is in the season with maybe conference on the line too, it's just even better."
For now, however, Lakes is focused on its season opener, Friday night at Deerfield. Antioch visits Lake Forest for its opener.
"We're not talking about them," Eder said of the Sequoits. "And I'm sure they're not talking about us."