Hersey's Pardun has some close ties to Lake Zurich
It really is a small world.
As the Hersey football team prepares for its second-round Class 7A playoff game against host Lake Zurich at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Huskies head coach Joe Pardun is struck by the full-circle feel of the moment.
Pardun used to live in Lake Zurich, before moving to Arlington Heights about 6 years ago to be closer to school so that he could spend less time in traffic after football practice and more time with his young kids.
But Pardun's brother Jim still lives in Lake Zurich. And he happens to live right next door to Lake Zurich starting quarterback Jack Moses.
For years, when Joe Pardun visited Jim, the two brothers would see the young Moses outside playing and Jim would tell Joe about what a good little athlete he was.
Now, Pardun is faced with trying to shut down that next-door neighbor and his teammates.
"I remember seeing him (Moses) when he was little and I knew his time was coming in high school but I wasn't sure exactly when that would be," Pardun said. "And then we started preparing for this game and I saw his name and I put 2 and 2 together and I was like, 'Wait, that's him.' It's funny that we're playing against him now."
Another 6 degrees of separation: There is another connection that Hersey coach Joe Pardun has to the Lake Zurich football program.
Before becoming the head coach at Hersey in 2014, Pardun was the team's defensive coordinator. And in doing his due diligence, he not only studied film, he studied other team's practices.
"I wanted to see how other teams with really good defenses did things," Pardun said. "I wanted to get some ideas."
So Pardun contacted the coaches at Lake Zurich, which has been known since the early 2000s for having a perennially tough defense.
"We wanted to bring a 3-5-3 (defensive formation) to Hersey and Lake Zurich has been one of the best at running it, so I asked the coaches there if I could come watch some practices."
Pardun worked with former Lake Zurich coach Dave Proffitt, now the defensive coordinator at Antioch, and before Proffitt, he worked with former Lake Zurich head coach Bryan Stortz, now the head coach at Conant.
"They were great to work with," Pardun said. "They let me watch practice and they let me work with them. When I was coordinating the defense at Hersey, we were running a lot of the same things as Lake Zurich."
Helping hand: When he was younger, Hersey coach Joe Pardun was in the position of wanting to learn from coaches with more experience than him.
Now, he's the one who is getting hit up for his wisdom.
Just as Pardun used to sit in on practices of other teams such as Lake Zurich to learn their systems and their practice routines, he is now getting calls from fellow coaches in the area who would like to see how he runs his own practices.
"I'm really big on reaching out to other schools," Pardun said. "I like to watch other teams practice to see what they do, and I am happy to have other coaches come to our practices to do the same thing. In fact, we've had a couple coaches from other teams in this week as we prepare for (second-round playoff opponent) Lake Zurich.
"I think a good teacher always wants to teach to anyone who is interested and I think you end up learning a lot yourself as people ask you questions."
Pardun hopes that all coaches feel comfortable enough to use each other as resources.
"I think most coaches are happy to help when you ask, but I think some coaches are afraid to ask," Pardun said. "I've never come across a coach who says he doesn't want to tell you more about what they do. We're all trying to get better and that's the cool part about high school football. We can all help each other do that."
Focus on the D: Much has been made this season of Hersey's high-scoring offense. The Huskies are averaging an area-best and eye-popping 48 points per game.
But last week in the first round of the Class 7A playoffs, the Hersey defense made a statement with its first shutout of the year, 49-0 over Rockford Auburn.
"We have a lot of talent and leadership on our defense," Hersey coach Joe Pardun said. "It was really nice for us to get our first shutout of the year. I thought we played more aggressive and we really went after the football."
The Hersey defense forced two Rockford Auburn turnovers, and was also part of a blocked punt.
Troy McKinnies blocked the punt and Josh Bontje got an interception.
"We weren't turning teams over much this year, so we challenged our defense before last week's game to be more aggressive going after the ball," Pardun said. "We are athletic and experienced and we wanted to see our guys take advantage of that more. They did that. They played with great energy."