Granite City didn't look far to find its new football coach.
Brad Hasquin, a Bethalto native who has been an assistant coach with the Warriors for eight years, was hired Tuesday night. He replaces Carl Luehmann, who resigned in January after eight seasons and a 20-53 record.
Hasquin, 42, was a head coach for three years at Wood River (2007-09), going 6-21, and was an assistant for eight years at Alton. He is a physical education instructor at Granite City.
"We've got some kids coming back that we like," said Hasquin, already looking toward the season. "Hopefully, we'll build some more depth and get some more kids out to make some excitement around here. I think the kids are just as excited as our staff is.
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"The biggest thing is (having) continuity and building relationships with kids, letting them know I care about them more than just on Friday nights. I care what they're doing in the classroom in April and May just as much. I've got some kids here who are going to buy in. They know I care and our staff cares. We're here for them, regardless of the wins and losses."
Granite City was 2-7 overall and 0-7 in the Southwestern Conference last season. It was the Warriors' final season in the league. They will compete as an independent in 2018.
The Warriors could be a factor this season with the return of quarterback Freddy Edwards, who will be a junior, and running back Jerry Watson, who will be a senior.
Edwards played in Granite City's two season-opening victories last fall, throwing for 301 yards and seven touchdowns and rushing for 431 yards and seven touchdowns. A shoulder injury then sidelined Edwards for the final seven games.
Watson rushed for 1,012 yards and seven touchdowns and caught 21 passes for 352 yards and two touchdowns.
"We've got Freddy and Jerry coming back and four of the five offensive linemen coming back," Hasquin said. "We've got some talent coming back. We moved the football, even when Freddy got hurt, at times. But I think when Freddy comes back, we'll jell pretty good. We're not playing the Chicago Bears every weekend. We'll be able to compete."
Edwards, a Division I prospect, took an unofficial visit to Notre Dame in October.
On defense, linebacker Logan Gordon returns. Gordon, who will be a junior, had 96 tackles and two sacks last season.
As coach, Hasquin will continue to run the Warriors' offense. Granite City graduate Freddie Layne will be the defensive coordinator.
"We're going to run it until (opponents) stop us," he said. "When they think they've stopped that, then we're going to throw it. We'll keep them off-balanced. If I had to, I would throw it 30 times a game, but thankfully, since we have Freddy and Jerry, we don't need to throw it that much."
Hasquin looks at the Warriors' schedule and believes they can secure the five or six wins required to reach the playoffs. Granite City hasn't qualified for the postseason since 2011, which was its most recent winning season.
Granite City has home games against Carbondale, Carnahan, Collinsville and Mater Dei. Its road games are against Jerseyville, Francis Howell, Belleville West, Alton and Galesburg.
"We've got to find six wins, and I think they're there," Hasquin said. "Maybe (we'll get) more. It just depends on how we play in a couple of the bigger games."