Tony Klimczak’s Bearcats continue turnaround with win over Dan’s Satellites
By Steve T. Gorches 648-3141 or firstname.lastname@example.org September 14, 2012 11:42PM
Wheeler's Jeremy Truchan runs back a kick off in the first quarter with South Central's Adam Clindaniel closing in at Wheeler High School Friday night. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 16, 2012 6:14AM
VALPARAISO — It was a homecoming for big brother Dan Klimczak as the former Wheeler coach was back in Union Township as the coach — and athletic director — of South Central.
But it was little brother Tony Klimczak who showed that he learned a thing or two under Dan while the Bearcats were winning five straight GSSC titles.
The 25-7 victory by Wheeler (2-3, 2-1 GSSC) might not lead to another conference crown, but it’s part of a turnaround from losing the first three games of the season without much offense.
And it gives Tony bragging rights at the Thanksgiving dinner table.
On Friday, offense wasn’t a problem this time. In fact, it looked much like Dan Klimczak’s balanced attack from the last few years.
“The key for us was coming together as a group,” Tony Klimczak said. “We got Derek (Hartwig) back from injury and it’s only Jake Bertucci’s third game at running back in his life.”
It was also the first game at quarterback for Jeremy Truchan — the third different starting QB for the Bearcats this season — after he played wide receiver in the first four games.
Truchan was the catalyst, scoring the Bearcats’ first TD with 36.9 seconds left in the first quarter to tie the game at 7-7. The drive was vintage Wheeler under the previous Klimczak — some passes, some runs and two fourth-down conversions.
The drive was nearly a mirror image of the first drive for South Central (3-2, 1-2). The Satellites went for it on fourth-and-goal at the 5 as quarterback Kyle Sturdy scored around the left side. But that fourth-down conversion was South Central’s only one in three attempts in the first half.
“You play with your offense and you can’t score by punting,” said Dan Klimczak with the same bravado that he had on the opposite sideline. “We know they have some playmakers and we wanted to keep the ball out of their hands.”
In the third quarter, things got worse for South Central with two lost fumbles and another failed fourth-down attempt. The mistakes made up for Wheeler’s own miscues, which included 11 penalties on the night.
“We felt at halftime that we were shooting ourselves in the foot,” Tony Klimczak said. “Our kids came out fired up in the second half.”
And they were pumped for multiple reasons — not the least of which was because of who was coaching on the other side.
“They wanted to make (Dan) proud,” Tony Klimczak said. “He’s been someone I’ve looked up to.”
Truchan showed that his current coach made a good decision in putting him behind center by adding a pair of explosive plays that brought back memories for Dan — a 43-yard TD run and a 75-yard TD pass to Hartwig — and likely made him envious, too.
“I’m proud of them and proud of my brother,” Dan Klimczak said. “If we would have won, (Tony) would have taken his hat off to me. They won, so my hat’s off to him. Before the game I thought about (coming back to Wheeler) a little. But the emotion gets forgotten during the game because it’s about coaching football.”