Football changes under new coach

: Head coach Dan Hartman (LEFT) strategizes with defensive coordinator, Carl Landi (RIGHT) during the second quarter (Sorice/LION)

: Head coach Dan Hartman (LEFT) strategizes with defensive coordinator, Carl Landi (RIGHT) during the second quarter (Sorice/LION)

Tommy Layden, Co-Sports Editor

After finishing last season with a 1-8 record, LT varsity football is back and has something to prove. Linebacker Sam Heyer ‘20 has been biting at the bit waiting to play since the last game of the ‘18-19 season, which ended in a loss to Oak Park-River Forest High School.

“Players have taken it upon themselves to lead the team,” Heyer said. “There’s more at stake now than ever.”

The team knew what it was like to be at such a low point coming off of last season and now they are eager to win, lineman Aidan Kelly ‘20 said.

“There’s definitely more of a sense of confidence and there’s a lot of us that are experienced after last year,” quarterback Blaise Reichert ‘20 said.

In the season opener at New Trier on Aug. 30, the Lions went into the second half tied 10-10. They ended up losing 20-10, but the game showed an improvement from last season.

“It was really six big plays that decided the game,” Kelly said. “[Before the second half] we had a chance to go up 14-3 and we were stopped twice on the goal line. A score that would’ve changed the tempo of the game, they would’ve had to adjust what they were doing.”

This season is the team’s first under new head coach Dan Hartman, who was formerly the head coach for Hinsdale Central. In each of his last two seasons coaching at Central, the Devils finished with a record of eight and three. Under Hartman, there have been many coaching changes, with the new additions of linebacker coach Patrick O’Neil, a teacher at LT, and Defensive coordinator Carl Landi, who formerly coached at Glenbard West.

“There are a few different things, schematically we have changed the offense and the defense,” Hartman said. “We have spent a lot of time focusing on fundamentals and trying to get those better first before we move on to bigger concepts.”

Hartman and the players said that the ultimate goal is for the team to win at least five out of the eight upcoming games, which would qualify the team for the playoffs. In the first home game of the season the Lions prevailed in a 31 -20 win over Proviso East. The win puts the team’s record at .500 for the first time since the 2017-18 season.

“[At practice] we are always focused, always locked in,” running back Olin White ‘20 said. “We are a pack of dogs, we are hungry.”

If the team executes on both sides of the ball and stays focused for the duration of the game, Reichert believes that they can make the playoffs.

“[Over all] it’s about having fun,” Heyer said. “We got to understand that we are playing with our boys. It’s a brotherhood and we can’t let them down. We are playing for each other.”

The team’s next game is tonight at 7:30 at York High School. The team plays Hartman’s former team, Hinsdale Central, on Oct. 25.