New Head Football Coach Looks to Build Winning Program

Despite early setbacks, the Tigers are focused on the long term under head coach Terrance Terry
New Head Football Coach Looks to Build Winning Program

As the lights that signal Friday night football illuminate the midfield Tiger logo, the sense of anticipation is through the roof.

The echoes of past losses still seem to linger in the air but now mingle with the promise of change and hope.

With a vision fueled by experience and hunger for success, head coach Terrance Terry and his team emerge from the locker room onto the field, ready to give everything they have for four quarters.

The hunt has begun, as Terry embarks on a mission to shape the Tigers into a force to be reckoned with in the new era of EPHS football.

Head football coach Terrance Terry

Terry, EPHS’ new head football coach, is a former Division I-AA (FCS) wide receiver who played at the University of South Dakota from 2010 to 2013.

He led the team in receptions in 2013 with 54. Over his collegiate career, he totaled 108 receptions for 1,128 yards and 6 touchdowns.

Terry accepted the head coaching job prior to the 2023 offseason after the resignation of former head coach Dylan Mack.

From 2017-2019, Mack led the team to a 20-11 record with three straight playoff appearances, including the team’s first playoff victory since 1985. However, the team finished with a record of 3-19 during Mack’s final three seasons.

One of the main reasons Terry was hired is his extensive coaching experience. He built his way up the coaching ladder in the successful Homewood-Flossmoor High School football program, eventually becoming offensive coordinator for the varsity team.

His two-year stint as head coach at Plainfield East High School from 2017 to 2018, although it didn’t end the way he may have hoped with the team finishing 4-14 during his tenure, also provided valuable experience for Terry.

“My experiences are a rare combination,” Terry said. “The people I learned from were incredible. I attribute a lot of that to the coach I am today.”

"The Hunt Begins" on the back of No. 45 Boston Wolf's helmet
The Tigers’ 2023 team motto, “The Hunt Begins,” can be seen on the back of No. 45 Boston Wolf’s helmet.

While Terry has never coached a game he didn’t believe he could win, he still understands that a drastic change in record from the last three seasons isn’t going to happen overnight for EPHS football. The Tigers are 0-6 as they head into Friday’s Homecoming Game against Westmont.

“Our goal has always been long-term success,” he said. “If that takes time we’re OK with that.”

This success in the long run, according to Terry, can be achieved by laying foundations immediately. The foundations include accountability, connecting back to the youth program, and consistency on the field, in the weight room and in the classroom.

“There’s a step-by-step plan in place for long-term success,” Terry said.

The Tigers’ motto for the 2023 season is “The Hunt Begins.” This motto embodies the mentality that Terry and the rest of the coaching staff are trying to instill in their players.

The team aims to approach each game as the aggressors, dedicating themselves to vigorous preparation throughout the week and a relentless attack during the game. In their eyes, they are the predators, and their opponents are the prey.

Terry believes in pushing his players to reach their maximum potential. His practices are intense, with no wasted time in order to get the most out of them.

Running back/linebacker Johnny Baratta (No. 4) during a game
Running back/linebacker Johnny Baratta (No. 4) has been one of the senior leaders on head coach Terrance Terry’s first EPHS team.

“He pushes us a lot to become a better team,” senior running back/linebacker Johnny Baratta said.

Terry’s time playing at South Dakota as well as his previous coaching gigs has allowed him to develop a large network of connections with different coaches in the football world.

This has already proven beneficial for EPHS players who may want to go on to play football in college, as Terry is able to provide exposure for them to coaches.

Senior wide receiver/cornerback Jose Garcia, who has six touchdowns throughout the team’s first six games of the 2023 season, is one of the players on the team interested in playing football at the next level.

When Garcia posts his clips from games on his Twitter account, Terry reposts them, giving the clips direct exposure to college coaches who follow him. Garcia has even had multiple coaches reach out to him through the social media site regarding the clips.

Terry is willing to do this because of his deep care for each of his players. The coach believes that creating personal relationships with his players leads them to have greater motivation to perform on the field.

Wide receiver/cornerback Jose Garcia (No. 7) in action during a game
Wide receiver/cornerback Jose Garcia (No. 7) in action during a game

“He is very passionate about his players and supports us and lifts us up even when we’re down,” Garcia said.

Anthony Sylvester, EPHS assistant principal for athletics and activities, is confident in the future of Tiger football under Terry. This confidence is further amplified due to the school’s impending move to the Upstate 8 Conference for the 2024 season and beyond, with the conference containing only fellow public schools.

“Coach Terry understands how to build a winning program, and I have no doubt that with continued buy-in from our underclassmen and the Elmwood Park community, we will continue making improvements and ultimately be successful,” Sylvester said.

Sylvester’s optimism is matched by Terry’s.

“I think our players understand that great things take time, and right now we’re kind of in the thick of it, in the process of one-day grasping greatness,” Terry said. “I firmly believe things will fall our way — and when they do, watch out.”

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