Francis Howell athletic director Sean Erwin announced today (April 20) that Hazelwood Central varsity football coach Brent Chojnacki has accepted and has been hired as the Vikings new head football coach.
His hiring was approved at the district board meeting on Thursday night (April 19).
Chojnacki, 30, coached the 2017 season at Hazelwood Central and has coached at the school the past six seasons.
Erwin said that Chojnacki was picked from several dozen candidates that applied for the job, and that his background as an offensive coordinator and assistant head coach made him a strong candidate that stood out among the field.
“We definitely had a strong candidate pool and I think at the end of the day with the (search) committee of parents, coaches, players, involved in the process and Brent definitely was the one that stood out,” Erwin said. “He had a lot of the pieces in place that we have with our expectations of coaches here at Howell and definitely stood out among the group and had those pieces.”
Chojnacki was not planning on leaving Hazelwood Central after the 2017 season, but when the Howell job opened up in March with the departure of Cory Snyder, Chojnacki, who lives in O’Fallon thought it might be a good time to consider switching jobs due to the high-profile allure of the Howell position.
“Hazelwood Central is a good program with great kids and it wasn’t my (initial) decision to leave after one year but with job like Francis Howell, that has the community support and the tradition that Howell has, I knew I had to throw name in the hat and hope that I get it,” Chojnacki said.
Erwin said that he believes Chojnacki will be able to step right in and help the Vikings continue to be among the elite programs in the area.
Over six seasons at Hazelwood Central, Chojnacki helped guide the Hawks to 8 wins or more a season, and the team played in a district championship game each season.
Last fall, Chojnacki led Hazelwood Central to an 10-2 record in his first season as head coach. The Hawks advanced into the Class 6 quarterfinal round before losing to eventual state champion CBC.
“I think he’s going to be a great leader not only for our coaches and but also our kids in our program and we’re really looking to him to be the face of the program,” Erwin said. “Someone that’s going to continue to grow it and I think at Howell it’s definitely more than just about football and he’s very a dynamic individual to where he’s going to be active in our community.”
Prior to beginning his prep coaching career at Hazelwood Central, Chojnacki studied and played college football at Missouri State University from 2006 to 2010 and played at Hazelwood Central from 2003 to 2006 before graduating in 2006.
In coming to Howell, Chojnacki plans to only bring over one assistant at this time and that is defensive coordinator/linebacker coach Mike Burroughs. Burroughs has been an assistant at Central since 2010. “He’s a phenomenal guy I trust, and a guy with a lot of experience and the way he coaches x’s and o’s and transfers things to the kids is huge, “Chojnacki said.
Leaving Hazelwood Central was tough for Chojnacki, who met with his players Friday morning and informed them of his decision, but he is excited about the opportunity that awaits him at Howell and is ready to get started.
“I’m excited about the opportunity and there is some good schools out here in St. Charles County, but I really see Francis Howell as one of the top stops, and a place where I can spend a long time at,” Chojnacki said. “I was telling a friend that as an offensive lineman, it’s like a good cheeseburger. It’s got the bacon, the pepperjack cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, peppers, relish, and that’s Francis Howell. All the resources, support, and high expectations.”