Devils’ versatility helps to open Hartman’s playbook


Liam Jones

Coach Hartman watches his players on Dickinson Field.

First year football head coach Dan Hartman has pulled quite a few tricks from his sleeve in recent weeks. Against OPRF, Hartman and the Devils successfully converted an onside kick as well as a fake punt.

This unorthodox and risky play calling is something fans haven’t seen on Dickinson Field in quite a few years.

“I like to take risks. I like to always be on the attack, whether it be on offense or defense, instead of being the person sitting back waiting for something to happen,” Hartman said.

This risk taking attitude has been a perfect match with a very well-rounded Red Devils team.

“We have a lot of very versatile guys. Thomas Ives can do a bunch of different things,” Hartman said. “We also have a lot of flexible defense guys that can play multiple spots, like Jimmy Thompson. This allows us as coaches to be more creative in designing game plans.”

This flexible game plan isn’t exclusive to onside kicks and punts, however. The offense has been taking more shots downfield and is looking more explosive than ever.

“It’s a little bit different system than they used in the past. We’re more of a spread, up-tempo system. We’re trying to get as many plays off as we can,” Hartman said. “We try to balance it 50-50 run to pass. In the past, it was more 70 run, 30 pass.”

This new offense is spearheaded by a trio of seniors: quarterback Matt Rafferty, wide receiver Thomas Ives, and running back Juwan Edmond. The high powered attack is averaging 28 points a game this year and have posted 100 points in the last three weeks combined.

“It was something we wanted to do initially when I got here. It’s taken some time to get everything in place but now that everything is in place, it’s starting to click, and we’re starting to look better,” Hartman said.

The Devils are clicking at the perfect time as they prep for the final game of the regular season on Oct. 24 against Downers Grove North. Then come the IHSA State Playoffs.

“We really focus on the game being three parts, and if all three parts are really contributing then it takes the pressure off of everyone,” Hartman said. “The defense doesn’t feel like they have to go out there and shut people out. The offense feels like the defense can hold people down to fewer points. The special teams can give us great field position and make big plays to help us win games.”