Glenbard West head football coach Chad Hetlett has turned the Hilltoppers into a yearly Class 7A state title contender in a short period of time. Hetlett talks about his program, previews the 2014 edition of the Hilltoppers and much more here.
EDGYTIM: If you take the 2007 season out of the equation (6-5 record) you've lost seven games in six seasons. I can't help but think you have to feel good about the progress you've made here since taking over the job?
Chad Hetlett: I never dreamed that we would have that success so fast. It was just a perfect situation here, a perfect storm where we already had some great coaches in house. We also brought in some great guys and the kids really bought in and everyone now wants to keep the success going. I don't have any number of the amount of wins or state championships we want to achieve. We want to just continue to do what we are doing here with the program and keep developing kids who will have success at the next level. We've been blessed with some very good talent as well. As far as say a ten year plan it's tough. The grind is hard year in and year out and it seems we've been able to replace some great names with kids who have just stepped up every year. It's rough when you have that target on your back and at least in 2007 that wasn't the case. It's been the case ever since that first year. Our success happened fast and we really grew up as a program quick because it all came at us so quick. I think in a lot of ways we are a lot like Lake Zurich were they might have a few colleges prospect types but the reality for them and us is that a large majority of the kids just play tough football. They play hard, they play smart and they work hard in the off season. If you can do all of those things you can get into the post-season and if you can win a few games then you have a chance.
EDGYTIM: Can you give us some early thoughts about the 2014 team? What can we expect from the Hitters for 2014?
Chad Hetlett: I think we will be a lot like the 2013 team minus the experience in the offensive backfield. We just had some great depth and experience in the backfield in 2013. We graduated Hayden Carlson and we just don't have an answer on replacing him right now and I don't know if I will till maybe mid-season. Hayden was a three-tear starter for us and was as good of a safety as can be for us. Hayden was a big part of our success defensively. I'm confident we will have 11 guys that will be talented. We will be young but we still bring back six starters on defense. Offensively we bring back Donavon Vaughn who ran for 190 yards against Hinsdale Central last year. We'll be fine and like last year we will have a bunch of no name guys who will come up on the scene and become bigger name guys. They played behind some talented kids and will be ready for the challenge. I have a feeling we will be more of a no name team who will need to go out and earn respect from the get go. From an off season standpoint besides not having a few of the big name prospects I see a lot of good things coming from this group in 2014. Our kids understand the pressures of playing at Glenbard West and we are looking forward to it.
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EDGYTIM: Since you've been a head coach, who is the toughest kid you've coached again?
Chad Hetlett: Terry Hawthorne at East St. Louis was a freak. He did some amazing things in the semifinals in 2008 and we also saw those amazing things on film. Another kid that was truly amazing was Stacey Smith (Jr. Schaumburg). We've played against some big time recruits but Stacey Smith did just as many amazing things as any of them. Both of the Allen brothers at Hinsdale Central (Jack and Brian) were just very imposing and very physical players. Jack in particular was just a monster. Also Tommy Fussell from Lincoln-Way East just did freakish things against us. One of the kids who I thought made the most impact was our own Chris Watt (Notre Dame). Just go back and watch some of his high school tape and Watt in 2008 was one of the best high school offensive linemen I've seen. I also heard that from coaches who had been around for years and years. Chris Watt was just an animal.
To check out the full 10 minute interview click here.