Hal Chiodo was born and raised in central Illinois, went to college there and coached Morton's football team to the state playoff 12 times in 13 years. But he always believed that coaching in the Chicago suburbs "is big-league for a high school coach in Illinois" and he finally got his opportunity to do it.
Chiodo, 52, is the new coach at West Chicago. Talk about a challenge. West Chicago is 54-181 since 1981 with only one trip to the state playoff. It competes in the Du Page Valley, which is generally regarded as the strongest football conference in the state.
West Chicago once was a powerhouse. In 1973, Paul Unruh produced an outstanding team led by future NFL player Scott Dierking. In 1974, after Dierking graduated, Unruh led his team to a state championship.
But then West Chicago joined the Du Page Valley against the likes of Wheaton Warrenville South, Naperville North, Naperville Central, Wheaton North and Glenbard North. How tough is that? Well, Chiodo is West Chicago's third coach in three years.
"Being a football coach is in my blood and I can't gt it out of there," said Chiodo, whose father was a Hall of Fame coach at Normal University High. "My dream always was to move to the suburbs. Before I retire, I wanted a chance to be involved in it. It's very difficult for Downstate coaches to find good jobs in Chicago."
Chiodo resigned at Morton after last season. "I felt I had done all I could at Morton," he said. He mailed out 30 applications. He was one of six finalists at New Trier and a finalist at Lincoln-Way Central. He also interviewed at Richards and was offered the head coaching job at Granite City.