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Coach Fitzgerald’s Return to Red & White

Former Marist offensive coordinator (OC) Michael Fitzgerald takes over as new head coach of Marist varsity football following the stepping down of beloved Coach Dawczak. Dawczak opens up about his time as head coach as Fitzgerald gets ready for the future.
Coach Dawczak (left) during his interview with Hayden Krupa (right) for MHS Studio Magazine’s segment “Behind the Curtain”

Marist High School announced that Michael Fitzgerald would replace former head coach of seven years Ron Dawczak on January 8, 2024. This shocking news was met by great response from the media with sources such as the Chicago Tribune referring to it as “a home run hire.”

As for Dawczak, he’s happy to step down on his own terms hoping to turn his attention further towards his job in the education department at Marist and his family at home. However he did mention he wouldn’t be opposed to becoming involved with the football program further down the line.

“I think that the time was right for me to step back from my role at Marist here within the football program and devote more of my time at home,” said Dawczak, “It [coaching again] would be something that could very well be in my future, I don’t know for certain yet but I definitely have not ruled it out,”

On the other hand, Fitzgerald is fired up and ready to take over at Marist. Just weeks after his hire, he’s already in the building helping with offseason workouts and getting to know the team. He understands that football simply means more at Marist and has a motto that’s surely worth getting behind: “Our focus will be on getting better every single day. We can’t control anything other than today so we will focus on consistent daily improvement,” said Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald is no stranger to the bright lights that come with taking over a football program. As head coach at York he succeeded a team that went six straight seasons without a playoff appearance and a 14-40 record during that time period, taking them to a 43-17 total record during his tenure with the Dukes, including being 31-5 in his last three years.

In fact, Fitzgerald is unfazed by the pressure of the media claiming, “To me pressure is a privilege because it helps drive you to put the work in and focus on all the small details to be great.”

Fitzgerald has experienced success with our boys on 115th in the past. During his stint as OC from 2008 to 2014, the team went 50-19 including the 2009-2010 season where his offense put up over 240 passing yards per game (YPG) under quarterback Mike Perish and went all the way to the 8a state semifinals.

Since becoming head coach at York his offense has only improved. Last season’s York offense averaged just under 34 points per game with over 400 YPG including 198 on the ground led by senior running back Jake Melion.

There is still plenty of time before the upcoming season kicks off for Marist, but as far as everyone can tell Red & White Stadium is going to be in great hands for many years to come.

Dawczak himself has even said, “Hiring Coach Fitzgerald was a slam dunk for the school, he is a phenomenal coach.”

Coach Fitzgerald announced as next head coach of Marist Football (credit: Marist H.S. on X)
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About the Contributor
Hayden Krupa, Editor in Chief/Journalism 2 Writer
I am Hayden Krupa, Senior at Marist. This is my 2nd year as a writer and 1st as an editor for MHS Media. I plan to major in sports journalism and I dream to one day cover Chicago sports for a living. I also want to play college hockey. I am a student ambassador for Marist, member of NHS, 2 sport Varsity athlete in hockey and lacrosse, and the commentator for Sandburg hockey.
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