CHICAGO – The days get shorter every November, but this November, Todd Kuska’s time at St. Rita is growing short.

Kuska is retiring as coach at his alma mater this season after 25 years and a win total that now stands at 215. The Mustangs play St. Charles North in Saturday’s 7A quarterfinal, a school which opened in 2001, three years after Kuska took over the program at St. Rita.

“It all added up,” said Kuska. “25 years is a nice round number. Joey, my son is graduating, my oldest son Jake graduated a couple years back. It just made it right.”

But even if this farewell season falls short of Thanskgiving weekend in Champaign, it’s extra special regardless for the coach, who’ll walk away from the program along with his son, senior wide receiver Joey, and all of his friends.

“I mean he’s been coaching me, so, it’s kinda the same,” said Joey. “He’s coached me in Little League, basketball, pretty much everything.”

“It’s a real close class,” said Todd.  “I’ve known all these kids practically their whole lives. A lot of my former teammates – I’ve got their kids on my team, so it’s enjoyable to keep going.”

“Having him win after 25 years of coaching would be great for him,” added Joey. “Especially since his last state championship win was 2006.  It’d be great to have it end with me winning a state championship too.”

Among those friends – one of their most prominent recruits, Illinois-bound defensive lineman Pat Farrell.  And there’s also a family affair with the Kingsbury brothers, senior twin linebackers Matt and Joe, along with sophomore James.

“Sharing every moment with them is special for me,” said Matt.  “Talking about everything after the games is awesome. Going to practice and spending more time with them before college is just awesome.”

“It means a lot this time just because we’re coming across – `Hey, this is the last time we’re going to do this’ or ‘This is the last time we’re gonna do this.’ So, we just want to keep it going.”

Three more wins gives Kuska his second state title to go along with four Prep Bowl championships. It would come after a 1-2 start to the season, with losses to the state’s top two teams – Mt. Carmel and Loyola – sandwiched around a win against Brother Rice. If the Mustangs get the job done on the road Saturday, it’d set up a semifinal date next weekend, in a rematch against the winner of Saturday night’s matchup between those two other Catholic rivals – Mt. Carmel and Brother Rice.

The 50-year-old Kuska will continue teaching at the school, while his successor has already been named. It’s one of his former players and 2009 St. Rita graduate Martin Hopkins, who was formerly an assistant coach at the University of Iowa.