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NFL Legend John Holecek Leads Illinois High School Football Team to Prominence

Former NFL linebacker John Holecek didn’t think he was ready to be a high school football head coach in 2006. 

But the recommendations of two NFL coaching legends set Holecek on a path to success as a high school coach.

Holecek's former NFL coaches, Marv Levy and Wade Philips, called officials at Loyola Academy in Wilmette, Illinois, where Holecek had applied for the head coaching vacancy. Their recommendations convinced Loyola's administration to hire the seven-year former pro as the Ramblers' next coach. 

In the 15 years since, Holecek has become one of the top high school football coaches in the country. He’s led Loyola to two state championships, with four other appearances in the state title game. Holecek’s overall record at the suburban Chicago school is 157-34.

Holecek currently has Loyola Academy a perfect 3-0 halfway through the league's six-game regular season, which was postponed to the spring for COVID-19 concerns.

Below, Holecek speaks with High School Football America’s Jeff Fisher about his growth as a high school football coach, football during the coronavirus pandemic, and what the recommendations of Levy and Phillips meant to him.

Photo: AP/Mike Groll


  • High School Football
  • Coaching
  • NFL Players and Legends