Athletics, Local, Park Forest, Schools

Spartan Product Nick Lopez To Serve As 10th Football Coach at Marian Catholic

Nick Lopez
Nick Lopez. (Photo: MCHS)

Chicago Heights, IL-(ENEWSPF)- Seeking to build on his success as a Spartan athlete and a sterling reputation as an assistant coach and program builder, Nick Lopez will take over the reins as head football coach at Marian Catholic High School.

Serving most recently as Offensive Coordinator in his current four-year coaching term for the Spartans, Lopez also owns eight years of experience on the football staff at Bloom Township. In both cases, he helped guide the programs out of long IHSA playoff droughts.

“Nick possesses a tremendous knowledge of what it takes to move a football program to the next level,” according to Athletic Director Kevin Kelly ‘80. “His background and experience reflect that he will bring improvement to all aspects of the program, in particular through organizational expertise and off-season strategy.

“With deep roots in the tradition of Marian Catholic football, Nick owns the perfect demeanor and motivational skills to bring out the best in Spartan athletes.”

A product of the late Dave Mattio ’66 and one of the state’s most successful football programs, Lopez’ playing career saw a Chicagoland Prep Bowl championship game appearance and a visit to the IHSA Class 5A state championship game in his senior year, 1999.

“Marian Catholic is a very special place for my family and me,” said Lopez, who also served as a student assistant at Eastern Illinois University. “I’m excited to be given the opportunity to restore our rich, historical football program.

“Just as legendary Coach Mattio guided us, I want our student-athletes to experience what it is like to make deep runs into late November. Also, I want to make everyone associated with our program from the past, present, and future proud to don the Black, Gold, and White of Marian Catholic.”

Lopez succeeds Erick Middleton ’98, another Marian Catholic product. In four seasons at the helm, Middleton led the Spartans to two CCL-ESCC Red Division championships and Marian’s first IHSA playoff appearance in nine years in 2019.

“Erick has had a strong hand in helping Marian Catholic begin to turn the corner,” Kelly praised. “Much like Nick and the Lopez family, the Middleton family has left an impressive multi-generational impact on the Marian family. With continued building enhanced by a 6-2 frosh-soph team, the current and future Marian staff has things pointed in the right direction.”

Already heavily involved in most aspects of the program, Lopez will immediately take on responsibilities for weight training and conditioning, and summer camp plans, in preparation for an Aug. 26 season opener at Thornwood High School.