MARIST HIGH SCHOOL NAMES MIKE FITZGERALD HEAD FOOTBALL COACH
Former York High School head coach replaces Ron Dawczak
CHICAGO (January 8, 2024) – Marist High School has announced a change in leadership for its football program. Ron Dawczak has decided to leave his post as head coach after seven seasons, with the school concurrently announcing the hiring of Mike Fitzgerald as its new head football coach. Fitzgerald, who began his high school coaching career as an assistant coach at Marist, returns to campus after six seasons as the head coach of York High School.
“Coach Mike Fitzgerald brings to Marist a wealth of experience and success as he takes over as head football coach,” said Larry Tucker, President of Marist High School. “Coach Fitzgerald is no stranger to Marist having been an innovative offensive coordinator under head coach Pat Dunne, where he was part of many wins and our 2009 state championship game appearance. We love Mike’s passion for his players and for Marist; he certainly knows how to develop a positive football culture. We are so excited for Coach Fitzgerald to begin the next chapter of Marist football!”
“I also want to thank Coach Dawczak for his years of service as head football coach at Marist,” continued Tucker. “Ron has been a great representative of our school and has always honored our Marist values. Coach Dawczak leaves with more wins than any football coach in the 60-year history of our program, but more than the wins, Ron cared deeply about his players and assisting their character development. We are glad that Coach Dawczak will continue on as a teacher and role model here at Marist High School.”
In his six seasons at York, Fitzgerald helped fuel the rise of a program that had not had a winning season since 2011, compiling a 43-17 (.717) record during his tenure at the Elmhurst school, including a 31-5 (.861) mark over the last three seasons. He guided the Dukes to back-to-back appearances in the Class 8A semifinals (2022, 2023) for the first time in school history and was at the helm for the first undefeated regular season in school history in 2022. Fitzgerald helped develop multiple all-state and all-conference players on both sides of the ball, including quarterback Matt Vezza, who was named 2022 DuPage County Player of the Year.
“While I was not looking for, nor expecting, to move from York, this offer was something that I had to consider, especially with my past experience and relationship with both the school and the community,” said Fitzgerald. “This is a special and unique opportunity for both myself and my family and I cannot wait to get started.”
“The past six years at York were an unbelievable experience,” continued Fitzgerald. “I was able to work with so many incredible people and will cherish those relationships and memories forever. Being able to advance that program the way that we did, to where it is one of the best in the state, was a collective effort and I know that the coaches and young men there will continue to raise the bar.”
Fitzgerald began his high school coaching career in 2008 as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Marist, helping the team to six playoff appearances – including a title-game appearance in 2009 – in his six seasons before earning his first head coaching job at St. Francis in Wheaton. After winning 15 games in two seasons there, Fitzgerald spent two seasons as offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach at Naperville North before taking over the reins at York.
Fitzgerald replaces Ron Dawczak, who posted a 56-24 (.700) record in his seven seasons as head coach. Dawczak led the RedHawks to three Class 8A semifinal appearances during his tenure, mentoring 14 Illinois High School Football Coaches Association (IHSFCA) all-state players (including honorable mention) and 27 IHSFCA Academic All-State honorees while helping nearly 70 student-athletes fulfill their dream of playing college football.
“It has been an absolute honor and privilege to be the head football coach at Marist for the past seven years,” stated Dawczak. “I would like to thank Larry Tucker for giving me this opportunity and my predecessor, Pat Dunne, for his work in building this outstanding program and for his unwavering support during my tenure. I also want to thank Principal, Meg Dunneback, Athletic Director, Eric Simpson, and all of the faculty and staff members at Marist that have been so supportive over the past seven years”
“I also want to say a huge thank you to both the players and coaches that I have been fortunate enough to work with during my time here,” said Dawczak. “I was fortunate to be surrounded by a great group of dedicated coaches and blessed to have coached such high-character young men who enjoyed great success on the field, but more importantly, have achieved great success beyond high school athletics. I am incredibly excited for Coach Fitzgerald, one of the top coaches in Illinois, to take over as the next head football coach. He is a tremendous leader and I look forward to enjoying the success of Marist football as I move into the next chapter of my life with my wife and three children.”