The E-Rabs recent history isn’t pretty. They haven’t fielded a winning team since 2001. The most games they’ve won in any season since then is three. So administrators simply looked north up Alpine Road to Lutheran high school for a possible solution. Lutheran athletic director Gary Griffin is their choice as East’s new football coach.
"He has a great rapport with people. He has a great rapport with young people. He has a passion for teaching and coaching," says District 205 Athletic Director Mat Parker.
"This is a great opportunity to come back where I’m from. A great opportunity to work with young men that I know need leadership in their lives," says Griffin.
Griffin had been Lutheran’s athletic director from 2010 until now. He’s a Lutheran graduate who played football in college at Concordia. His coaching career includes one year at the University of Dubuque as an assistant and five years at Bay View High School in Milwaukee as a head coach.
Griffin grew up on the west side of Rockford. He attended the Rockford Public Schools until his junior year, so he feels he can relate to Rockford kids.
"They’ll see that people can grow up and be successful and come back to Rockford and be a part of it," he says.
Lutheran’s sports teams had tremendous success while Griffin was there. Both the football team and the boys basketball team reached the final four at State last season. So how will he go about turning around a sputtering East football program?
"We can turn it around in a day," he says. "If kids are positive, and they start to change their demeanor and their attitude. These things we do then the wins will come."
Griffin won’t say what schemes he’ll run at East. Parker says out of five final candidates for the job, Griffin was the overwhelming choice.