Peabody High head football coach Scott Wlasuk resigned that position Tuesday and offensive assistant Matt O’Brien will take the reins on an interim basis for the remainder of the season.
Wlasuk was in the midst of his fifth season as head coach and steps down days after the Tanners fell to 0-5 with a 49-0 loss to Beverly.
Peabody has been outscored 224-41 in losses to Salem, Danvers, Haverhill, Gloucester and Beverly in 2012.
Yesterday afternoon, Wlasuk met with high school principal Ed Sapienza and athletic director Phil Sheridan and determined that the time had come to step away.
“I think it was time to move on,” Wlasuk said last night. “I think it was a mutual thing and I think it’s a situation where maybe some change in philosophy will be a good thing.”
Sheridan met with the football team to explain the situation yesterday. O’Brien, a 1992 Peabody High grad who has been on Wlasuk’s staff for several years, will coach his first game when the Tanners host Revere on Friday.
“Scott resigned for personal reasons, and we accepted that,” Sheridan said.
Wlasuk was named head coach prior to the 2008 season and took over a program that had gone 2-19 in 2006-07. He won four games his first season, following by a 3-8 mark in 2009, a 5-6 campaign in 2010 and a 5-5 mark last year.
Overall, Wlasuk compiled a 17-31 record in 41/2 seasons as head coach. He had been a longtime assistant under former coach Ed Nizwantowski and left the program after Nizwantowski was let go in 2005. The Peabody police lieutenant was then an assistant during Dick Woodbury’s single season as head coach in 2007.
All together, Wlasuk spent close to 25 years on the Peabody High sidelines.
“When I spoke with the kids I expressed my appreciation for Scott’s efforts. I reminded them that this is a guy who bleeds Peabody blue,” said Sheridan. “This is a sad day, but we’ll move on. I told the kids they need to keep working together, and like any high school football team, to play for the guy beside them.”
Just ten months ago, Wlasuk was voted NEC/CAL Tier 1 Coach of the Year and it appeared the program had turned a corner with back-to-back five win seasons, by far its most success post-Nizwantowski.
The 2012 team didn’t return a player that had scored a varsity point, however, and had a roster with 36 sophomores, 16 juniors and 10 seniors. Speculation about Wlasuk’s future began to spread after a 61-12 loss to Danvers in week two and came to a head after the Beverly setback.
“I take full responsibility for everything that’s happened,” said Wlasuk. “Within the past two weeks there’s been a lot of outside pressure and this was the time.
“I don’t want people to think I bailed on the kids or that I’m being disloyal. That wasn’t the case.”
Sheridan anticipated that the rest of the coaching staff will remain to work with O’Brien, and felt that under the circumstances continuity was for the best.
“We were thinking quickly on our feet and the best fit was to go with someone who had been with the staff rather than someone from the outside,” the athletic director said.
Peabody has five games left on its schedule, beginning with Revere this Friday followed by Masconomet (Oct. 19), Lynn English (Oct. 26), Lynn Classical (Nov. 9) and Saugus (Thanksgiving).
“I watch these kids out on the practice field and they’re working hard,” said Sheridan. “They’re going to keep playing, keep learning and they’re going to try to do the best they can.”
Peabody had just two head coaches (Arthur Adamopoulos and Nizwantowski) between 1961 and 2004 and rose to become one of the state’s strongest football powers.
As a program, the Tanners never truly shook off the sting of Nizwantowski’s controversial departure. The team immediately had its first losing season in 13 years in head coach Paul Uva’s first year, going 4-6 in 2005. Uva stepped down following a 1-9 2006 and when Wlasuk replaced Woodbury in ‘08, he was the program’s fourth head coach in a five-year period.