Kyle Tutt
Kyle Tutt

It may be only a couple days in, but it's safe to say Streator High School's new head varsity football coach is happy to be the next man leading the Bulldogs, and Streator High School is happy to be bringing in a coach with the resume and energy of Kyle Tutt.

Tutt — for the past five years a teacher and assistant football coach at downstate powerhouse Maroa-Forsyth, and before that an assistant at West Carroll (2013-15) and Tolono Unity (2011-13), Division 3 college football player at Monmouth College and Manchester University, and 2003 high school state champion quarterback/defensive back at Iroquois West — was hired Tuesday night as Streator's next football coach by a unanimous vote of the school board.

He will also teach social studies. He and his wife, fellow teacher Allison Tutt, have already begun looking for a home in the Streator area.

"I'm very blessed to have this opportunity," Tutt said Wednesday during his free period at Maroa-Forsyth. "I think Streator has a lot of opportunities for me not only on the football field, but in the classroom.

"I'm excited to get there, get involved and make a difference."

The feeling is mutual.

"We're excited for him to come here," Streator athletic director Rory Bedeker said. "He has a lot of great ideas he wants to implement and a lot of things we think the kids are going to grab onto and like. He knows one goal we have is to get kids back involved in the program, get more players out there, and he sees that as something he wants to do too. ...

"He's been around very successful programs, both as a player and as a coach. We're looking for him to bring some of that knowledge to our kids."

Tutt's Bulldogs will take the field in 2020 coming off an injury- and low-numbers-plagued 2-7 campaign. Streator has five postseason appearances since the introduction of the IHSA playoffs in 1974, the last coming in 2017 under previous head coach Brian Hassett (15-31 over five seasons), who was not renewed for the position at last December's school board meeting.

"I haven't had much of a chance to look at film," Tutt said, "but I have watched some games on HUDL and saw (Streator) ran the spread last year. I come from that (offense) here in Maroa, and that's what I'm about as a quarterback. ...

"I know how talented the (Illinois Central Eight) Conference is top to bottom, that every game is a grind. I've had the experience of being in some of those types of games, and hopefully we can come out on the other side now."

While this won't come as a surprise to anyone familiar with his history as a player or coach, Tutt — who threw for a record 381 yards in Iroquois West's upset win over Carthage in the 2003's Class 2A state championship game and was called "Doug Flutie-like" in the Chicago Tribune's story on the contest — comes in with the mindset of adding big offense, new concepts and a lot of fun into the Bulldogs' playbook.

"I think you'll see the ability to score touchdowns," the recently-turned 34-year-old said. "We've built that here at Maroa, and I've adopted that. You see what the defense is giving you, and you exploit that, and with the system we have we want people to see how fun it is to play the game.

"I think that needs to be brought back. When you score points, people get excited. When you can do that and get the kids engaged in fun ways ... it's great to see those things on a weekly basis.

"I've been so fortunate to have Coach (Josh) Jostes and Coach (Jon) Kidd as mentors the last five years, on the offensive and defensive sides. Being able to interact with those guys has been such a blessing, as well as being able to expand my football knowledge."

Tutt said he plans to visit Streator this Friday night for the Bulldogs' senior-night boys basketball game to meet his future co-workers, players and neighbors ... and to get started on the process of building up Streator football.

"My main goal, really, is to build a community of fun and relationships that haven't been established ... to build camaraderie in the football program," he said.