Brian Zimmerman got his start in coaching football at Lincoln-Way East under coach Rob Zvonar, who has three state titles on his résumé and some day will be inducted into the Illinois High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
For the past six years, Zimmerman worked on the staff of Jacobs coach Bill Mitz, who already is in the IHSFCA Hall of Fame.
Now, Zimmerman will take over himself as a head coach. He was announced Wednesday as the interim head coach at Jacobs. Mitz resigned as head coach Feb. 2 after 11 seasons leading the Golden Eagles.
Zimmerman will take over in the COVID-19-abbreviated, six-week season that begins with practice March 3. The short season could be an audition for Zimmerman to become the Eagles’ permanent coach.
“The focus now is on these six games,” said Zimmerman, who graduated from Lincoln-Way High School (when it was one school) in 2000. “Then we’ll address and apply when that moment comes. I’m fortunate for this opportunity. I’ve been with these seniors for four years. I’m just excited.”
Zimmerman teaches special education at Jacobs and worked on Mitz’s staff coaching running backs and quarterbacks and coordinating special teams. He said he will have several of Mitz’s assistants remaining on staff this spring.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” Zimmerman said. “Rob Zvonar was my sophomore coach and helped get me into coaching. I started my career under a future Hall of Famer and worked the last six years under another Hall of Famer. Both of those guys have been instrumental in helping me.”
Mitz was 253-141 over 38 seasons as a head coach at Stevenson and Jacobs. He is an IHSFCA Hall of Famer and ranks No. 20 on the IHSA career wins list.
Mitz’s Jacobs teams were 63-48 in his 11 seasons and made the playoffs seven times in 11 years. The Eagles finished 3-6 in each of the past two seasons. He has the most football wins in Jacobs history.
Jacobs athletic director Joe Benoit is excited to have Zimmerman taking over.
“We’re really grateful to have coach Zimmerman leading the program this spring,” Benoit said. “He’s a two-sport coach who always puts the student-athletes first. He’s eager to get started and we’re looking forward to a great spring under his leadership.
“He’s familiar with our program and he’s been a significant part of our success in recent years. He’s built a strong relationship with the players and coaches on the staff.”
Benoit said the coaching position will be evaluated after the season.
Zimmerman and his wife, Brynn, have a daughter (Macy, 5) and a son (Maddox, 3). He also is Jacobs’ girls track coach.
Zimmerman played wide receiver at Lincoln-Way and walked on briefly at Eastern Illinois University.
“Goal No. 1 is to stay healthy,” Zimmerman said. “I’ll stress to our kids to put themselves in the right situations. I know they’re champing at the bit to get out there and play.”