Peabody High Closes in on Hire for New Football Head Coach

An official announcement on the hire for a new high school football coach is anticipated to come out Thursday.

Everyone should know later this week who the new head football coach will be at Peabody High.

Principal Ed Sapienza, who is on the search committee tasked with finding a new coach, said he expects an announcement will be forthcoming on Thursday with the news. The job became available halfway through the football season this past fall after Scott Wlasuk resigned.

Sapienza said 17 candidates applied for the job and described many of them as “excellent” picks. He did not elaborate further on their merits, but there may be at least one Super Bowl winner among the candidates, according to the Salem News.

“It’s not just a shot in the dark,” Sapienza said. “We have the kids’ best interests in mind as well.”

He noted the committee has worked hard to find a new coach who can improve the stature of the program as well as focus on character development and life lessons for the student-athletes.

Attempting to wrap up the process and choose a finalist this week, the committee spent all day Saturday and Sunday and then met again at 7 a.m. on Tuesday, Sapienza said.

Athletic Director Phil Sheridan told the School Committee last month he expected to have a new coach in place in early February. As for compensation, the position receives a stipend of $8,706, which is a little higher than average what other districts in the same league pay.

Sapienza also brings some personal experience to the search as a former high school football coach himself. He initially coached in his hometown of North Reading in the 1970s, did a stint in Wakefield and then returned to North Reading in the late 1990s.

He said the game hasn’t changed much since then – “it’s still all about blocking and tackling.”

“When the Patriots learn how to do that they’ll make it to the Super Bowl again,” Sapienza said, laughing.

Head football coach is one of the two hardest school jobs to have, he quipped; the other is Superintendent.

“You’re making decisions on the field with 10,000 people watching in the stands,” he said, adding that fans may or may not understand the reasons behind those decisions.

Wlasuk resigned in October as the Tanners went 0-5. Assistant coach Matt O’Brien was then temporarily promoted to finish out the season.

Initially, school officials explained Wlasuk’s departure as due to personal reasons, but it quickly became apparent he was receiving pressure from different corners to step down and Wlasuk indicated as much in interviews at the time.

In his 4-1/2 years as head coach for the Tanners, Wlasuk posted a 17-31 record. That was an improvement from where the Tanners had been for three seasons before that (6-25), but still nowhere near the dynasty established under former coaches Ed Nizwantowski and Arthur Adamopoulos.

Wlasuk spent nearly 20 years as an assistant coach for Nizwantowski and played for Adamopoulos.

DEBBIE February 06, 2013 at 08:44 PM
IT IT AIN'T BROKEN, DON'T FIX IT. Reminiscing that at one time PVMHS had the best football team(s) in the area, probably the state. As history dictates, we all know that was under the vigilant eye of Coach Edzu Nizwantowski (Niz). He was a legend in Peabody High sports since his childhood days, just a really good athlete. Once he became "Coach" for our football team, "Niz" brought his team right to the top, winning more games than ever and capturing many titles. Edzu kept them there. Why? Because he was a perfectionist. True to form for this city, some hotshot(s) in our political fiefdom thought they would play their usual game of dirty politics and not rehire "Niz" after many years of long and hard work. Despicable.Sadly, since those pitiful days, PVMHS football has sunk to an all time low, loss after loss after loss.This is in no way, shape or form a personal jab to all those who have followed in "Niz's" footsteps, it is just plain and simple fact. Shame on us, or rather those that were in power at one time. Now we all have to suffer loss after loss after loss.
cris anastopoulos February 07, 2013 at 03:14 PM
I don't know if Coach Ed Nizwantowski wants the job ,but if he does he should be the choice . I'm a 51 year old born and bred peabody man that had "Niz" for a teacher for 3 years. Ed Nizwantowski was always much more than a an Gym teacher or Coach . My father attended one parent teacher night back in 1978 and when he came home he informed me that the only teacher he met with that night that impressed him was Ed Nizwantowski . I saw for myself first hand how Ed Nizwantowski helped young people in there teens ,at a difficult time of their lives as they were growing from boys to men. , girls to women . Ed Nizwantowski A kind and caring voice of reason. The best of the best...... Mr.Chris Anastopoulos Peabody,Massachusetts Tanner City ...01960
cris anastopoulos February 07, 2013 at 03:32 PM
Everyone that I know in this city who was fortunate enough to know and have Ed Nizwantowski as a mentor is proud and thankful to have had him in in our lives. To this day when I bump into "Peabody Guys And Girls" around town and shoot the breeze we all hold our heads alittle higher when we speak of Ed Nizwantowski. We all have stories how Ed Nizwantowski helped us during our lives . Football ,Hockey, Baseball ...Superbowls ..Awards...Hall Of Fame ...all great things . Ed Nizwantowski will always be remembered for these ... But to thousands of men and women who's lives he touched over the years with interest , guidance , and respect he gave so unselfIshly is what his true legacy is. I know this because I hear it everyday on the streets of PEABODY!!! WHERE ARE THE PEOPLE THAT CHOSE TO " GO IN ANOTHER DIRECTION "....WHERE ARE THEY NOW?.......i DO KNOW WHERE ED NIZWANTOWSKI IS ...HE'S STILL RIGHT HERE IN PEABODY , STILL BEING MORE OF A MAN THAN ANY OF THOSE WHO HAD A PART IN HIS DISMISSAL .HE'S STILL GIVING BACK TO ALL THE PEOPLE OF PEABODY EVERYDAY. WITH A " TEAM" OF GENERATIONS OF FORMER SUDENTS THAT ARE GLAD HE DIDN'T GIVE UP ON A CITY THAT GAVE UP ON HIM...MR. CHRIS ANASTOPOULOS ,TANNER CITY .....PEABODY MASSACHUSETTS...... 01960
cris anastopoulos February 08, 2013 at 07:53 PM
Eight years ago, Mark Bettencourt made sure that one of Peabody’s most successful high school sports programs entered a new era with stability and success. Now, he’s being asked to do it again. Peabody High officially hired Bettencourt as the 21st head football coach in the school’s history yesterday, after an eight-person search committee unanimously recommended him to Superintendent Joe Mastrocola. Bettencourt is entering his ninth season as Peabody’s head baseball coach and takes over a football program that last fall endured its first winless season (0-10) since 1958. “I’m humbled to have this opportunity,” Bettencourt, 40, said yesterday. “As a coach, its the most exciting thing that’s happened to me since I got the baseball job. Having the chance to go back to your high school and positively impact kids the way coach (Ed) Nizwantowski and his staff impacted me when I played is an honor.” That"s what I'm saying ...Nice words you spoke there ,Mark ....Looking forward to what your bringing to the table .......Chris A.
Daubach February 08, 2013 at 09:26 PM
We get it buddy...you love Niz. However, I couldn't disagree with you more about your assessment of his character. I am extremely glad that Peabody High decided to go in another direction and felt that they should have done so EVEN SOONER than they did. Winning isn't everything folks.


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