Rockford’s one sagging football program is going to get a jolt from one of Illinois’ most successful coaches. Former Lutheran coach Bruce Bazsali will take over as the head football coach at Guilford for the 2017 season pending school board approval.
Bazsali will be entering his 50th season as a high school football coach. The last seven seasons he took over a struggling Lutheran program and turned it into a powerhouse. The last five years the Crusaders made the playoffs. They went as deep as the semifinals in Class 4A in 2013. The Crusaders also won or shared three Big Northern West Championships under Bazsali.
“I’ve never seen a more meteoric turnaround of a football program in my life. What he’s done here has been phenomenal,” said Lutheran athletic director Dirk Campbell in an interview with Eyewitness News in December.
In December Bazsali resigned at Lutheran. He told Eyewitness News at that time that the demands of being a head coach while also coping with the passing of his wife had become too much.
“With her passing it’s been harder to do everything just to keep up the house, take care of the dogs…just do everything and still keep up with practice.”
Now Bazsali apparently has been re-energized by the challenge of taking over a Guilford program that has backslid in recent seasons. Guilford has had losing records the last three seasons. Last season the Vikings were only 1-8 their worst season since 1979.
While the Vikings have been sliding Rockford East under Gary Griffin, and Rockford Jefferson under Ken DuBose have made big strides. And since District 205 hired Dan Appino away from Boylan five years ago to coach at Auburn the Knights have made the playoffs four times and they’ve won or shared the last two NIC-10 championships. Landing Bazsali is just the latest big, coaching splash by the district.
RPS 205 Athletic Director Mat Parker said in a press release Monday “We’re looking forward to the excitement and energy coach Bazsali will bring to the program. It’s all part of our vision as a district to be the first choice for all families.”
There has been speculation that this is a one-year interim coaching hire with another highly successful coach expected to take over at Guilford in 2018. Parker and Bazsali weren’t available for interviews Monday. A press conference will be held Tuesday at Guilford
One of Parker’s assistants at Guilford will be former Hononegah head coach Tim Sughroue. Sughroue was an assistant for Bazsali last season at Lutheran.