Football: Adam O'Malley leads Elk Grove to title in Wheaton6/27/12 Wheaton-Glenbard Norths Brian Murphy looks for an open receiver against Montini during the Red Grange 7 on 7 at Wheaton Warrenville South High School
It's been anything but a boring offseason for Elk Grove's football team.
Coach Brian Doll, who revived a program that had three wins in the three years before he arrived for the 2009 season, resigned in late May to take a job marketing American football in Europe.
His replacement, Larry Calhoun, was approved by the Elk Grove school board on Monday and two days later, the Grenadiers won the prestigious Red Grange Classic 7-on-7 tournament at Wheaton Warrenville South.
Rising junior Adam O'Malley threw three touchdown passes as Elk Grove held off Glenbard North 26-23 in the title game. In the semifinals, Elk Grove beat Glenbard West 23-17 and Glenbard North knocked off Maine South – which won the 16-team event's lineman challenge – 23-15.
Calhoun's previous coaching experience was in Texas, including the past two years at Westwood High in Austin. He was looking into job opportunities in that state until expanding his search, with his wife's encouragement, when his son, daughter-in-law and grandchild moved to the Chicago area this spring.
It all came together quickly at Elk Grove, but he's already feeling at home.
"We're pretty serious about football in Texas, but what I've found out about Elk Grove, they know a little bit about football, too," Calhoun said. "I have a great bunch of kids and the coaching staff is awesome. I had very little to do with what happened today because, to be perfectly honest, the foundation was already there."
What little Calhoun has seen of the Grenadiers – who have made three straight IHSA playoff appearances and were 10-2 in 2011 – he likes very much.
"They're hard-nosed kids," he said. "They battle. This tournament – the format (pool play followed by four bracket-play games) became a war of attrition, kids cramping up on both sides. We don't two-platoon, we've got kids playing both offense and defense. They could have easily looked at the pain they were feeling today and decided the championship wasn't that important.
"But they battled through it."
That's something O'Malley is used to.
"Against Lyons Township I struggled a little bit," he said. "But after we got by them, I was like, 'I've got to work hard and be good the rest of the day.'"
O'Malley goes into this season as the Grenadiers' No. 1 quarterback after taking over the starting job halfway through last year.
"I feel a lot more confident with the offense this year," he said. "Last year I was a little shaky because I didn't know what I was doing all the time. I was nervous."
Now O'Malley is more at ease. But he and his teammates may have to get used to a little more attention.
"We kind of like flying under the radar," he said.
That seems less likely now for the Grenadiers and their new coach.