Longtime Glenbrook North football coach Sam Samorian dies at 89

Harold Samorian, right, who died this week at 89, was one of the state’s most respected football coaches and wrestling officials over a career that spanned decades. He’s shown at a football coaches clinic with Bob Pieper, who broke Samorian’s program record for wins as Glenbrook North football coach. | Provided

Harold “Sam” Samorian had one of the most eclectic resumes in Illinois prep sports history, reaching the state finals in four different sports as a player, coach and official. When Bob Pieper was hired as Glenbrook North’s football coach before the 1997 season, the first call of congratulations he got was from Harold “Sam” Samorian.
It was far from the last.
Samorian, who died on Tuesday at 89, was a fan of Glenbrook North football long after he retired as the Spartans coach. He also had one of the most eclectic resumes in Illinois prep sports history, reaching the state finals in four different sports as a player, coach and official.
“He was there from the day I got the job,” said Pieper, who led Glenbrook North to a program-record 120 wins over 19 seasons. “He was the first person who called me and said, ‘What do you need from me?’
Samorian, who continued to attend Glenbrook North home games and sit in the same seat near the press box for decades, remained engaged long after stepping down as coach in 1985.
“Every Friday, he called to say, ‘Good luck,’” Pieper said. “He would call me on Monday, only if we lost, to see how I was doing.”
Samorian led the Spartans to the greatest season in program history, a 12-0 run to the Class 5A title in 1974, the first year of the IHSA playoffs.
In the championship, Glenbrook North beat an East St. Louis team led by future Pro Football Hall of Fame tight end Kellen Winslow, winning 19-13 in overtime.
Pieper said Samorian remained active in the Illinois Football Coaches Association well after his retirement from coaching. He also was involved with wrestling for decades, as an official and charter member of the state coaches and officials association.
“The first thing when you think of Sam is class,” said Mike Bukovsky, who coached Montini to eight state titles and is a past president of the Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association. “They don’t make them like Sam anymore.”
Besides coaching a football state champion and officiating the wrestling state finals, Samorian also was a member of Rockford East’s boys basketball state runner-up team in 1948, and was an assistant coach for Glenbrook North’s baseball state champs in 1966.
“He just thought, ‘How could I give back?’” Pieper said of Samorian’s wide-ranging and long-lasting athletic career.

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