There’s a new leader in town for the Carmel football team in Chicago, and he has strong ties to the community.
Former Bears tight end Blake Annen has been hired to replace 20-year Carmel coaching veteran Andy Bitto, who resigned after the 2017 season. He joins Carmel from Lake Forest Academy, which he led to a 6-1 record in his lone season at the helm.
A Columbus, Ohio native, Annen starred at Upper Arlington and Cincinnati before embarking on a journeyman NFL career that spanned five teams across four years. He spent parts of two seasons with the Bears and parts of three with the Bills.
“I got to see programs ran five different ways,” Annen told the Chicago Tribune of his time in the NFL. “Being able to take some of those ideas, things I liked as a player and things I think worked, allowed me to get a bigger perspective on how programs run.”
While he still has plenty of time to build toward the 2018 season, Annen said he already has a sense of how he wants his team to play: fast and with physicality, with the distinct goal of a broader educational experience for his players.
“At the high school level, it’s helping prepare kids for life,” Annen said. “Hopefully all of them go to college and graduate and get their degrees. I want to do everything I can to prepare them, not only on the field, but off the field so that way they can make good contributions to society and the community as a whole when they’re done playing.”