October 20, 2021

High school football: Former Marian Central coach Mike Maloney takes over at Grayslake Central

Although he resigned as Marian Central football coach in October, Mike Maloney maintained the “coach mode” he always had.

Maloney attended clinics. He watched football like a coach. He worked with Hurricanes linemen Jayden Thiergood and Thor Paglialong on weekends.

“Football was still a part of me,” Maloney said. “All this time when I didn’t have a football position, my mind was going through the prep of ‘I should be doing this. This is where I should be. This is what I’ve always been doing at this time of the year.’ That’s where my mind was, out of habit.”

Now, Maloney can focus all that energy into a coaching job again. Maloney was hired this month as head football coach and physical education teacher at Grayslake Central.

Maloney, 37, announced he was resigning at Marian before Week 9, citing a desire to spend more time with his wife, Sarah, and their four daughters, ages 1 to 10. He said it was his family’s blessing that brought him back to coaching.

“There was no way I was going all in on another job without Sarah and the kids being bought in,” Maloney said. “Madi (10) is getting active, Kaile (7) is doing a lot more soccer. I have to have their support. That was No. 1.”

Maloney has been on a sideline somewhere for every fall since 1994. He played on Joliet Catholic’s 1999 Class 4A state championship team and on Illinois’ 2002 Big Ten Conference champion. In 10 years of high school coaching, Maloney’s teams were 37-62. He had four consecutive playoff appearances, with Johnsburg in 2014, then with Marian in 2015 to ‘17.

Darren Fortin, a 1984 Marian graduate who played linebacker on the Hurricanes' first of four Class 2A state champions, was hired as Maloney's successor. But Marian supporters expressed concern over the lengthy hiring process the administration took.

“It was important for the program to go to someone who has a tremendous amount of care for the kids and investment in the Marian Central community,” Maloney said. “Darren is in the annals of Marian football history. He’s a great leader; the kids respect him. They got it right, regardless of the process.”

Maloney said he only applied for one position. He knows several members of Grayslake Central’s athletic department through coaching and through officiating basketball games. He met with the Rams’ players two weeks ago and plans to start summer workouts soon. He will serve as Marian’s director of admissions through Aug. 1. He plans to coach at Grayslake in the mornings, then work at Marian in the afternoons.