One of Southern Illinois’ most stable football programs will undergo a rare change next year.
Carterville athletic director Brett Diel will add the title of football coach to his job description, replacing the retiring Dennis Drust. The move was made Thursday night by the district school board and confirmed Friday morning by Diel.
The 39-year old Diel is no stranger to pigskin and goalposts, although most around the area know him for guiding the Lions to the 2008 Class 2A softball title with a 38-2 record. In 13 years as the school’s softball coach, Diel went 342-106 with seven regional titles and five sectional crowns.
Diel played as a senior for Kerry Martin’s Class 3A state champion football team in 1996 and served as Drust’s defensive coordinator for 13 years. He becomes the school’s third coach since 1994.
“I had a lot of community support,” Diel said. “I’ve been considering the move and I had a lot of people talking to me. I thought about it a while with my family … I still have the competitive fire in me.”
This year’s 3-6 record and playoff miss notwithstanding, Carterville has crafted a quarter-century of success. Drust’s 17 years on the sideline saw him post a 136-46 record with 15 playoff appearances and five trips to the state quarterfinals.
His last venture into the quarters occurred in 2014, when the Lions roared out to an 11-0 start before losing at home to Herrin in what was billed by some as the Williamson County Super Bowl.
Carterville has qualified for the postseason in 22 of the last 25 years, making it in Martin’s last seven seasons.
“That’s not very common in high school sports, especially these days,” Diel said. “I think both coaches had staffs that have stayed the same. A lot of Kerry’s assistants went with him to Marion and Dennis had the same guys on staff all 17 years. Finding the consistency in that coaching staff is a priority.”
Drust had filed a letter in 2014 informing the system of his intentions to retire following this season, according to Diel. Drust has also been an assistant coach for three different basketball coaches during his tenure at Carterville.
Diel says he’ll adapt his schemes to the personnel on hand.
“There’s a lot of hard-working kids here who want to be pushed,” Diel said. “I expect them to step up and put in hard work like they do for all of our programs. The cupboard is by no means bare.
“We’re going to really evaluate the personnel we’ve got. We’re not going to try to determine our systems ahead of time.”
Attempts to reach Drust were unsuccessful.