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Deep Dish Football Tour Log 5


Otto Zeman- Father of the Five Wide

Illinois High School Football Coaching Legend

Otto Zeman is a legend in the passing game of Illinois high School Football. Starting with Riverside Brookfield in the 80’s to Westmont Football in the Present Day. Otto Zeman’s nickname is ,”Father of the Five Wide” and some old rival coaches also may refer to him in not so glorious terms… Otto Zeman is either loved or hated in Illinois Football coaching circles. You cannot deny what he has done for the high school football game in Illinois. Since me being an old school coach and having a love of running the ball, I despise the pass. Coaching with Otto Zeman for three years and playing against him for one year back when he was coaching Britt Davis. Otto had opened my eyes to the love of a beautifully thrown spiral football. No matter what people say about him, his love for the game and what he has done for IHSA football should not be forgotten. Some of most successful passing schemes today in Illinois High School football come from the mind of Otto Zeman. Derek and Ken Leonard of Sacred Heart Griffin and Rochester give credit to Zeman aggressive passing schemes. (PSSST Leonards have more rings then Kim Kardashian) Yes, most of the hate he gets from coaches is because he spearheaded the playoff multipyer rule. Otto Zeman in all of his years coaching has helped his own players and coaches. “Otto Zeman always watched out for special need kids at Riverside Brookfield when I was a student, that’s what I liked about him”. Coming from a former cheerleader who saw that I use to coach at Westmont and wanted to talk about Coach Zeman.

Otto in my three years of coaching with him has always been a great guy to me and a mentor to young coaches. All though I resemble a brute, caveman with my methods of coaching in his eyes. Still won’t give up the idea that he sent a RB coach to throw a punch at Nazareth coach in the 90’s. (STILL WON’T ADMIT IT) In 2014 when I was diagnosed with cancer, he had my back the whole season and was very supportive during my recovery. It’s funny, you know how you are a legend of a coach. When there are more untrue stories about you then there are true ones.

Otto is in his winter years as coach for Westmont High School a 3a school with about 35 kids in his program right now. If anyone can game plan for a season and win when the odds are stacked against him, Otto can! Otto Zeman is not just a coach, but an Illinois high school football treasure that should be appreciated.

Thanks again Otto Zeman for letting me come back… Still hoping you run the T-Formation


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