Illinois High School Football News

St. Rita coach Todd Kuska announces 2022 will be his final season

Todd Kuska never imagined he’d coach at his alma mater for 25 years back when he took over St. Rita in 1998 as a 24 year old.

But 25 seasons later, after leading St. Rita to a state championship and two more title games, Kuska will enter his final season as head coach, the school announced Thursday.

The Beverly Review first reported that Kuska would leave as head coach on Wednesday.

“It was always my dream job, and still is, but I didn’t think I’d be doing this that long,” Kuska said. “You always set to make a career out of it, but I think it’s gone pretty well.”

Kuska spent much of the summer talking to his family and friends about whether this should be his last season as the Mustangs’ coach. Coaching at St. Rita has been a huge priority for Kuska throughout his time at the school but it took a toll.

He knew there would never be a great time to leave but saw this season as the best opportunity to leave as the program’s leader. He came to a decision this past weekend and told his players this week during practice.

“I felt like this was the most opportune time,” Kuska said. “I need some time away and a chance to be back with my family, reintroduce myself to my family and go from there. It’s been a very tough decision. I still love the game and still have fun, but 25 years is a long time and it’s taken a toll physically and mentally. I just need to recharge a little bit.”

St. Rita missed the playoffs during the first two seasons under Kuska but started a string of 12 straight playoff appearances in 2000 that included a Class 7A title in 2006. The Mustangs have made the playoffs 18 times under Kuska in 23 years where a playoff was held and played in two other state-title games in 2019 and 2021.

Kuska enters his final season with a 206-91 overall record and has won seven conference titles, including three straight CCL/ESCC Green crowns starting in 2019.

Kuska took over a program that had made the playoffs 10 times in 13 seasons under his former head coach Todd Wernet and now he wants to leave the program in the right spot so it can continue its success.

“I’ve devoted most of my life to St. Rita and I want to make sure we remain one of the top football programs,” Kuska said.

Kuska will remain a teacher at the school after he finishes this season and said he’ll have a role within the football program, he just won’t be in charge of the varsity program. The coach said he’ll continue to talk to college coaches to help his players earn opportunities after he’s watched them grow up from an early age when they played youth football.

St. Rita starts the season against Mount Carmel on Friday in what will be the 100th meeting between the two schools but Kuska doesn’t think his leaving will add anything more to the game.

He’s looking forward to coaching his son during his senior year but everything else is business as usual as he prepares to win one last state title before handing over the program.

“It’s that time in my career,” Kuska said, “where I need to hand the reins over and let somebody else go with it.”