.

New Coach Wagner Optimistic for Baldwin Football

'It's an awesome district. I knew this was the place where I wanted to be and spend my career.' - Peter Wagner Jr.

Peter Wagner Jr. became the newest head coach of the Baldwin High School football program on Wednesday night, and if the Baldwin-Whitehall School Board's vote on his hiring is any indication, Wagner will—rightly or wrongly—have something to prove.

Three board members voted against hiring Wagner—six voted for him—and that was after B-W School District administration recommended somebody else for the job.

Coincidentally enough, that somebody else is somebody whom Wagner is very familiar with—Greg Perry, who was the head coach at Seton-La Salle Catholic High School in Mt. Lebanon for the past eight seasons and an assistant coach at Seton-La Salle for the 11 seasons prior to that, including the entirety of Wagner's high school playing career. The new Baldwin coach graduated from Seton in 2000.

"I know Coach Perry very well," Wagner said. "I have the utmost respect for him. He's a fantastic teacher of the game. Can't say enough about him. He had a tremendous impact on me as a player, as a person."

But Wagner, who has been the dean of students and an assistant football coach at Baldwin High for the past four years, said that his own experiences, especially his time at Baldwin, give him the confidence to be able to succeed with the Highlanders.

In addition to the relationships that he has built with the team's current players—Wagner has been Baldwin's offensive coordinator for the past two seasons—the new head coach said that he voluntarily stepped into the high school's weight room over the past two weeks to work with newcomers, as well, in preparation for the upcoming season.

"We've had a fantastic response from kids," Wagner said. "We've had 35-plus there (in the weight room) every day."

Wagner also said that his playing days and his time learning from accomplished head coaches before reaching Baldwin four years ago made selling himself to the district an easier process.

He credits his time at the Valley Forge Military College in Wayne, PA, from 2000 to 2002, for example, for instilling a great deal of discipline in him.

"5:45 (a.m.) every day, you're out in formation," he said. "A lot of structure."

Following that were three years at Morehead State University in Kentucky, where Wagner helped the NCAA Division I Eagles to a 17-6 overall record in two seasons (2002 and 2003) and earned a bachelor's degree in business administration in December 2004 after serving as an assistant coach for the Eagles for one more season.

Wagner was a Mid-Major honorable mention All-American (offensive line) in his senior year.

After graduation, he followed former high school head coach Lou Cerro to Cerro's new head coaching gig at Montour High School, serving as an assistant under Cerro from 2005 to 2008.

"I was looking to go into the business world," Wagner said, "but I really knew I wanted to get involved with coaching and liked working with kids. Ultimately, my heart was with high school football.

"We did a phenomenal job building that (Montour) program from the ground up. I was really hands-on throughout that process, and watching Louie Cerro do what he did out that there was a phenomenal experience."

When the opportunity arrived for Wagner to become the dean of students at Baldwin High, he jumped at the chance to also become an assistant football coach at Baldwin, he said.

At the same time, Head Coach Dan Pallante was headed out at Baldwin, making way for new coach Jim Wehner, the man now being replaced by Wagner.

It was during the Pallante-to-Wehner transition that Wagner says that he came to appreciate the Baldwin-Whitehall School District.

"I had a great response from kids and parents at the time," Wagner said, "holding the program together, working with those kids, being that solider on the ground, so to speak.

"It's an awesome district. I knew this was the place where I wanted to be and spend my career."

As for any controversy surrounding his hire—this is Wagner's first head coaching job—he knows that a bright spotlight comes with the territory of being a Quad A, or highest-level, head coach in football-mad western Pennsylvania.

"High school football's like a cult here," he said.

More importantly, he is focused on the upcoming Highlanders season—and beyond.

"Winning takes care of everything," he said, "and it's something I want to establish here.

"We're looking to hit the ground running. Something that we're going to strive for is sustained success. We want to be a force to be reckoned with in this (Southeastern) conference on a yearly basis.

"We have a fantastic group of individuals coming back for next year, and we're gonna build a program around these kids.

"It's something that I'm very excited for. I've had conversations with some kids throughout the course of the day (Thursday) just coming up to me and expressing that excitement. Obviously, it's early on, but we're gonna be ready to roll. I'm setting our goals extremely high.

"I believe in our kids. I believe in our district. I have great relationships with these kids. I know we can building something special."

 ---

Follow the Baldwin-Whitehall Patch on Facebook and Twitter.

Sign up for the (free) daily Baldwin-Whitehall newsletter.

Yemargo Maravichia February 18, 2013 at 02:08 PM
Yergi, I agree with your former employers!! Though brothers, you and I have different outlooks. I agree with Jb!! It seems that it is who knows who. You must be nice to get places and I don't think you have done so. I love work and I love my roof over my head and I love the socks on my feet. I do want to thank the patch for making place to freely debate our communities issues. Yemargo
John February 18, 2013 at 02:39 PM
Lets be honest. You were NOT the choice of the administration. Politics got you the job. You were NOT offensive coordinator, it was only in title, Wehner called ALL the plays. You were a grad asistant at Morehead, NOT a paid assistant. You did NOT build the Montour football program. You did NOT "hold" the program together, Wehner was put in place very quickly. You cut him down behind his back to put yourself in this position and when you could not earn it, you played your cards. You are NOT a winner, you are a liar....a politician one might say.
Phil February 18, 2013 at 08:50 PM
I for one am extremely excited about any new hire. There is not a single coach in the country worse than the last guy, so I say we give Wagner a chance before we burn him at the stake. Robert, do you know who he is putting on staff? Best of luck Highlanders!
bwsupporter February 18, 2013 at 09:14 PM
John you are an angry man. Support our kids, they need change, and will follow this man. I was reading your useless babble on the other article and you committed to not posting anymore until next season......that would make you the liar. Were is Sasafras when needed???
Robert Edward Healy, III February 18, 2013 at 09:37 PM
Phil, I am looking into that.
John February 18, 2013 at 09:41 PM
I am not angry, just looking out for what is best for BW. And it seems that I am in an overwhelming majority. I said I would not post on that last article where I was crushing idiots with facts. Get it straight. I hope Pete works out, but I highly doubt it. He got this job based on lies because I know the truth. It is pretty clear, just look at job posting for the position. Good luck to the kids, it seems like some know they are already starters, parents must be good voters!
purpleandwhite February 19, 2013 at 02:04 AM
As a former player Wehner only called plays when he wanted, but not always. The year after I left I know that he attempted to run the defense, but I dont think that went very well. Many coaches came and went. But I have to disagree with you on a couple points cause I know Coach Wagner worked us out for a couple months after Coach P left and he was always there.
cc February 19, 2013 at 01:34 PM
Yep it is a joke, and his job as dean of sports and this coaching job were handed to him because of his daddy. Just want to know when the next school budget comes out where are they going to be taking money from as they can't cut anymore from technology. Most schools districts have doubled the money they spend on technology, but Baldwin cut theirs in half this past year.
Sasafras Jackson February 19, 2013 at 04:00 PM
Robert - apparently I have disrespected myself again with my deleted comment. I apologize to you and your family. It was not my intent. God bless you.
Robert Edward Healy, III February 19, 2013 at 04:03 PM
Ha, Sas. No problem. You're usually pretty funny. Just keep it clean.
Jon Wain February 19, 2013 at 05:26 PM
The football program will have trouble feilding a team this season. The players don,t like this guy. So sad . Can't blame the players.
timetocare February 19, 2013 at 06:25 PM
You are stupid the numbers at lifting are up and the kids said they like the harder workouts . I dont agree with the way he became the coach but for now he is the coach . I also told my sons a long time ago to allways respect the coach and i never talk negative about any coaches in front of them
Angel Joseph February 19, 2013 at 07:54 PM
Please do not speak for " The players " because my son is one and he likes and respects him.
Greg Popovich February 19, 2013 at 10:19 PM
30 kids in the weight room is not a lot for AAAA. NA, Lebo, all get around 50. Did you see the North Hills hire, 15 years as Defensive Coordinator, our guy has zero coordinator experience. Players "liking" a coach will not equate to winds on the AAAA level, but hey, high school kids like him, maybe they can hang out,
Robert Edward Healy, III February 19, 2013 at 10:21 PM
Greg, Wagner does have two years of coordinator experience.
John February 19, 2013 at 10:51 PM
In title only. Wehner has always called the offense, at every school he has coached at. I know this to be a fact. 100% sure.
Robert Edward Healy, III February 19, 2013 at 10:54 PM
I've kept stats at every game over the past two years. I've seen and heard Wagner in the press box calling plays.
Greg Popovich February 19, 2013 at 11:08 PM
My very good friend worked with him at Yough and was OC, and while they have offered suggestions from the box, Wenher makes all the calls on the field.
Robert Edward Healy, III February 19, 2013 at 11:29 PM
Fair enough, but I believe that all head coaches have the ability to overrule their coordinators.
Greg Popovich February 19, 2013 at 11:48 PM
I agree. It's always the head coaches butt on the line. That's why they put coaches in the box, great vantage point, but it also lets them do their own thing if they know there may be friction on the field. And Wehner's offense was weak, a lot of mirror routes which is easy to game plan against.
Thomas February 20, 2013 at 01:58 AM
Can we please give this man a chance and see how he does as a HC? Who is to say any other coach can reduce the losing in Baldwin until we actually see how Wagner performs as a HC. Until then, please put this to rest. It's February.
Purple February 20, 2013 at 03:31 AM
Let's gve any coach a chance. The parents and fans are impatient and have run the last two guys out of town. A coach at a program this far behind needs 8-10 years to mold it from the ground up IMO.
PITT#983 February 20, 2013 at 06:05 AM
Jon I do not know where you are getting your information but it is not accurate. My son like Angel's is one and he does respect this coach/"like" the coach. The turn out in the weightroom has been excellent. Also as a side note fielding not feilding.
PITT#983 February 20, 2013 at 06:17 AM
Thomas I could not agree more with you! It has been a week let it go! The board made the decision and Wagner is the head coach. The debate could go on for months about Perry but the bottom line is he did not get the job and Wagner did. For those upset with the process let your voices be heard at election time but as far as this head coach selection...IT IS OVER! The board is not going to "do it over" so what is the point. I thought Perry would have been a great selection as well but it did not happen. Water under the bridge now. Support Wagner, his staff and most importantly the kids! I can tell you for sure it can not be worse than Whener.
Concerned February 20, 2013 at 10:40 PM
Dorian right, Dorian left, Dorian up the middle. Whats he going to call this year?
Jon Wain February 21, 2013 at 07:57 PM
Sorry but a clean house is the best way to go. Bring in coaches that have no ties to anybody.AND no history of losing seasons. Your kids already on the team have this coach figured out.If you don;t agree well then dig the hole in the sand deeper where your head is.The only way I will respect the new hire is if he plays everyone,not just the two way alumni or board members buddies sons.What kid wants to stand on the sideline the whole game or be the practice dummy. Yes you kids should respect the coach BUT they should always fear his opinion on their contribution to the team.
Lisa February 22, 2013 at 12:05 AM
"The only way I will respect the new hire is if he plays everyone." I'm curious to know what high school team anywhere plays everyone.
Shondra February 22, 2013 at 12:22 PM
Can we just move on already? The decision was made. Complaining and whining about it is not doing anything but bringing more negativity to the situation. While "30" (an estimated number) is not a lot for AAAA, it is a lot for Baldwin. But more importantly, these are actual work outs. Coach Wagner is there and pushing these kids. I do not know if it was the right decision, and only time will tell, but it is THE decision. I don't think bad mouthing the coach will do anything to benefit the program. For some of you, there is no winning in this situation. A month ago, some of the same Wagner Bashers, were bashing Coach Perry, and calling it a "done deal". Stating, in writing nonetheless, that Perry was the guy because of his ties to Sortino and because the "quarterbacks parents wanted him" (yes, that was some idiots comment). Some of these same people didn't want Perry because he was not at the school, and in their opinion, that was important. But then Wagner gets the job and the tables are turned. Some are stating that Wagner was with Wehner and was part of that mess, and should not be hired. Some of those same people are then saying that Wagner has no experience because Wehner would not let him do anything, It seems to be that no matter what happens, there are a group of people that will find some reason to complain. Those people are probably the same ones who would complain if they won the lottery. Bottom line, Wagner is coach!
Highlander Pride February 22, 2013 at 01:34 PM
Shondra has made many excellent points! Give the Coach and the players a chance! Community support is very important.
Fighting Highlander March 07, 2013 at 09:41 PM
I heard rumors that the varsity staff had a meeting last week. It is a mix of some new coaches and some old coaches and the players already have their schedules for the entire summer.

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something