As one Wyoming Valley Conference football coaching vacancy is about to close, another opened on Monday.
Pat Reece handed in his resignation after two years running the Holy Redeemer program. He resigned because he is moving back to his home state of Ohio.
Meanwhile, Hazleton Area is expected to hire veteran coach Mike Brennan at Thursday’s school board meeting. Brennan last coached at Blue Mountain in 2012 and previously coached at Mount Carmel.
“I enjoyed it a lot,” Reece said. “It was a great opportunity to help me mature as a coach. When you only have a handful of guys and you’re trying to manage things, it only makes you coach harder than a normal coach. We tried to change the culture of football and get more guys involved in the football program.”
Reece’s two brothers – both of whom were Redeemer assistant coaches – moved back to Ohio recently.
“It was nice having a coach for more than a year,” Redeemer Athletic Director J.P Aquilina said. “He did a nice job. We’re limited because we don’t have many kids. He brought excitement to the program and got a lot out of our talent. He did a lot of good things for our program, won a couple games obviously. We hadn’t won a game in a couple years and he won a couple both years he was coach.”
Redeemer had lost 21 consecutive games when Reece was hired in June 2012. However, the program had bigger problems off the field.
Then-coach Joe Ostrowski was arrested in May 2012 by federal authorities who alleged he solicited and attempted to produce child pornography and was involved in extorting his victims in several states.
Ostrowski plead plead guilty to charges of production and attempted production of child pornography, extortion and cyber stalking in December 2012. He was sentenced this past May to 25 years in a federal prison.
Redeemer snapped its losing streak in Reece’s second game at the helm. The Royals finished 3-7 in 2012, tying the seven-year-old program’s mark for the most victories in a season.
Redeemer finished 2-7 this past season and was competitive in most of its games.
“It was a challenge with everything that went down,” Reece said. “We had some success. We were in the lead (in games) and got them to the point where we competing against teams and teams weren’t just looking at us as a pushover. We started to gain some respect, especially this year.
“We didn’t have a lot of guys, but in a lot of games we were up on teams. But then come the fourth quarter, teams had more legs than we had. A lot of them knew if we had more players it would have been a different outcome.”
Reece won’t be moving to Ohio for a few months. He decided to resign Monday to give Redeemer the opportunity to start its coaching search sooner.
“We’ll post the job and see what kind of applications we get,” said Aquilina, who hopes to have a new coach in place by late March or early April.
As for Hazleton Area, the position opened in late January when Jim Drumheller resigned after compiling an 8-22 record over three seasons. Brennan, if approved by the school board Thursday, will bring an impressive resume to a program that has struggled recently.
Brennan coached Blue Mountain from 2009-12. He also spent nine seasons at Mount Carmel, winning PIAA Class 2A state titles in 2000 and 2002. His career record is 113-62.
“At this point, we’ve gone through our interviews and that’s who I’m presenting to the board,” Hazleton Area athletic director Fred Barletta said. “I feel strongly he has the support there.”
Barletta said there were seven applicants for the position and five were interviewed.
Brennan was the leading candidate for the Hazleton Area job in 2010, but withdrew late in the process. Hazleton Area then turned to Paul Marranca, who spent the majority of his successful 30-year coaching career at Wyoming Area.
Hazleton Area finished 3-7 in 2010 and Marranca resigned after one season.