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.