St. Francis grad Jerry Verde takes Marian Catholic grid post
By Tim O’Brien For Sun-Times Media December 20, 2012 10:42PM
Jerry Verde, who guided Crete-Monee to its first football state championship in 2012, is succeeding 37-year veteran Dave Mattio at Marian Catholic. | File photo
Updated: January 22, 2013 6:31AM
When Jerry Verde was a linebacker at the University of St. Francis, he set a single-season record for tackles.
After coaching Crete-Monee to the Class 6A state title in November, Verde bowled a bunch of folks over again Thursday when he was named the new coach at Marian Catholic.
The stunning move could be viewed as a step down for Verde, who has built a juggernaut at Crete-Monee. He’s replacing his former coach, Dave Mattio, who guided the Spartans’ program for 37 years.
Verde, a onetime East Suburban Catholic Defensive Player of the Year and a Midwest Intercollegiate Football Conference First-Team All-Academic pick, graduated from Marian in 1995 before moving on to St. Francis.
After serving as Marian’s defensive coordinator in 2003, Verde had a stint on the St. Francis staff before ending up at Crete-Monee. He leaped at the chance to return to his Chicago Heights alma mater.
“I really didn’t want to leave in 2003, but then the opportunity presented itself to come back,” Verde said. “It factors into the decision if your alma mater was a special place, and it was for me. What if it was the same scenario at a different school? I don’t know, but it was Marian and that played into it.”
Verde compiled a 56-14 record over six years at Crete-Monee. The Warriors defeated Cary-Grove 33-26 in the 6A title game, capping a perfect 14-0 season.
A linebacker on Marian’s 1993 Class 4A state championship team, Verde takes over a Marian program coming off a 1-8 season. With the numbers down across the program, Verde knows exactly where he has to start.
“I would be lying if I didn’t see the challenge as a little enticing,” Verde said. “There’s a certain allure. It’s a rebuilding process, and that’s part of the challenge. It will be a difficult process and that’s where we start, fixing the numbers.”
As for leaving Crete-Monee, it was far from easy.
“That was a tough decision having spent the last six years here,” Verde said. “We turned Crete into a state power, and I’m proud of the effort and program myself and the coaching staff created, culminating with the state title.”
Verde’s predecessor, Mattio, went 251-141 in his time coaching the Spartans.
“Jerry coming back to Marian will bring a ton of enthusiasm and energy to the football program,” Mattio said. “With his work ethic, Jerry will not leave a stone unturned.”
Still Marian’s athletic director, Mattio said Verde won’t have to worry about anyone looking over his shoulder.
“Jerry is going to be his own boss and do the things he found successful at Crete,” Mattio said. “He will be able to adapt those things here with what Marian has to offer. This will be an easy transition because Jerry and I have been friends for a long time. He will make his own mark.”