Why he’s Coach of the Year: In his 37th year as a football coach (36 at the high school level and 26 at SJ-O), guided the Spartans into the playoffs for the 23rd consecutive season and into a state championship game for the fifth time. SJ-O fell short, in overtime, against Stillman Valley, dropping a 43-41 decision in the Class 3A IHSA finals at DeKalb.
Season highlights: “After starting 2-2, we started progressively improving game-to-game from Week 5 on. Our improvement during the playoffs was dramatic, also. This team overcame some obstacles and played in the ultimate game at the end of the year. The championship game is still one that will hurt for quite a while,” said Duval, who has a 229-72 career record.
A few of my favorites: Favorite food, anything from Rub ‘n Chug Catering ... last text, to my daughter, Bobbi ... First job as a kid, detasseling corn; as an adult, sixth-grade teacher at Herscher High School ... Role model, Craig Beverlin, my mentor my entire coaching career. He lives in the state of Washington, but during football season, we talk each week ... 2006 GMC Sierra Truck ... Favorite athletes from past, Michael Jordan and Walter Payton; currently Derrick Rose and Peanut Tillman ... Favorite book, "Brian’s Song" (story of ex-Bear Brian Piccolo) ... Favorite TV show, "Mike & Mike" on ESPN2 ... On my bucket list, go to the College World Series, attend a college football game at every stadium (already been to five) and become a grandfather (hint, hint).
About Coach Duval: “He’s a tremendous football coach, but he’s a guy that looks out for you and teaches you what you need to know for life lessons down the road. It has been great playing for him for the last four years. There’s no one I’d rather play for in this whole state than Coach Duval. He’s a great coach and an even better person. I went through a lot my freshman year losing my mom; he was there for me. If there was anything I ever needed, I could go talk to him. I felt like I, and a lot of other people who are in my class, have built a relationship with him for our whole life. Any time I need something, we can go to him. He’s like a father figure for us. We love him greatly. He’s always going to be there for me, whenever I need something, that’s just the type of person he is. He is there for you as a person off the football field, even more off of it than on.” — Dalton Walsh, SJ-O senior quarterback