Football: Grayslake Central, Elk Grove, Conant announce new coaches

Grayslake Central found a pearl.

The Rams formally announced last Friday that they have hired former Prospect and Wheeling head coach Brent Pearlman to be their new head coach this fall. Pearlman will replace former head coach Michael Maloney, who stepped down to spend more time with his family.

"I don't think I ever stopped wanting to be a head coach," Pearlman said. "It came down to being in the optimal situation. And this is just that. Coach Maloney and the players have done a great job here building the program up. Hopefully we can come in and push a little further."

Pearlman, who recently moved close to Grayslake Central, previously spent 12 years at Prospect. His teams there went 104-34 and won three state championships.

He then took two seasons off before becoming head coach at Wheeling, where he will retire as a teacher after this school year. He was head coach at Wheeling for five seasons and took the Wildcats to the playoffs in 2016. That is the only time Wheeling has been to the playoffs in the last 14 years.

Pearlman was an assistant coach at Fremd. He was also an assistant last season at Elk Grove, where the Grenadiers made the playoffs for the first time since 2013.

"With all the variables that made this the optimum job, there are a million of them," Pearlman said. "But clearly, the team and their direction, the community. So is the fact that I live 10 minutes away and I am not teaching anymore."

Elk Grove, which was also looking for a new head coach, also found their new leader, also close to home.

Danny O'Donnell will be leaving Morton High School in Berwyn to become the new head coach of the Grenadiers. O'Donnell will take over from Miles Osei after Osei announced earlier this year that he would be leaving to take over the head coaching reins at Kankakee.

O'Donnell had just been named the head coach at Morton in Berwyn in early February. He had been the defensive and offensive coordinator there for the past nine seasons.

O'Donnell, who played high school football at Elk Grove, is the head track coach at Elk Grove now. He also lives in the community. So, it is no wonder that this is his dream job.

"This is something I definitely put a lot of work to get back to," O'Donnell said. "It has been a dream of mine to come back and give back to a community and a program that has given so much to me."

O'Donnell was a star running back and defensive back for the Grens. In 2004. O'Donnell, who was only 5-foot-7 and 155 pounds at the time, helped lead his team to the MSL East title. That team went on to go 11-1 on the season. They were upset by Rolling Meadows in the state quarterfinals 28-21 after beating the Mustangs 35-21 earlier that season.

Elk Grove athletic director Kirk Macnider said that the hiring pool was deep, but that O'Donnell stood out.

"He is an exceptionally loyal guy," Macnider said. "His life goal was always to come back here. He has a healthy respect for what has been done here the past few seasons. We have a confidence that he will build off that and succeed."

Conant also hired its new head coach in early March.

Anthony Donatucci, who was an assistant coach at Conant, was named their new head coach. He replaced Bryan Stortz.

Donatucci has been at Conant since 2009 as a teacher and coach. He was a captain at Buffalo Grove and helped lead his team to the playoffs for two consecutive seasons.

He is also the nephew of former Fremd and Hoffman Estates head coach Mike Donatucci.

Wheeling is the only area school that is currently seeking a head football coach. Former head coach Peter Panagakis stepped away recently and is retiring from coaching completely after the track season.

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