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Wiser Hired as First Football Coach for C-L, Clarion, North Clarion Co-op Team
CLARION, Pa. (D9Sports) – Larry Wiser is one of the most successful football coaches in District 9 history, and now, Wiser will get the opportunity to be the first coach of the combined Clarion, Clarion-Limestone, North Clarion football program.
(Photo by Mike Schnelle)
Wiser was hired as the head coach of Clarion – really rehired considering he has been the head coach at the school for 30 of the last 31 years including the past eight – by the Clarion School Board at Tuesday’s board meeting.
“This is an exciting challenge for me,” said Wiser, who is 223-99-1 in his 30 years as a head coach. “Bringing these schools together, this is going to be for the benefit of all three communities. We have all the things out there as to why we think this is important to do. It has always been a dream of mine for this to take place.”
Wiser, who had one of his assistant coaches also hired on Tuesday – former C-L head coach Dave Eggleton, who is returning as a Wiser assistant coach now – said he believes the biggest challenges the new coaching staff will face is not integrating the players from three schools but instead putting to rest any preconceived notions about the co-op. More assistant coaches will be hired at an upcoming board meeting.
“The biggest challenge I am viewing is not the kid, but to take some of the preconceived beliefs of how bad the co-op could be and make it a positive. When the C-L kids come over here and the North Clarion kids come down here, we don’t see them as blue and gold (C-L’s colors) or purple (North Clarion colors) or black and orange (Clarion’s colors), we are one team.”
Pointing to the success of the North Clarion players in recent years, Wiser said that is how people can know that it doesn’t matter what school a player comes from.
“I will just point to Sam Minich,” Wiser said of the North Clarion senior who was named All-State this year for the Bobcats. “He became the first North Clarion all-state player, and his plaque is up at Clarion. Both Sam and his brother, Logan, and Tyler McCord-Wolbert, the list goes on and on of the major contributors we have had from North Clarion. I don’t look at them as North Clarion players, and the neat thing is our kids bought into it. They play basketball against each other Wednesday, but they will go out as friends this weekend. They have all become really good friends. And, we are seeing that with the C-L kids, as well. Guys like Austin Newcomb and Ben Smith and some of our guys have already gotten together even before we were hired. It’s just a positive thing.”
Wiser said the challenge of building chemistry within the team doesn’t change because three schools are coming together to form one team – Clarion and North Clarion have been in a co-op since 2012.
“Chemistry is something we have to work on every year,” Wiser said. “To bring the kids together we have gone to camp in the past. Get them away from outside influences, so they can learn to relate to each other. We look at it as 11 as one, one heart. All the other quotes that come as working with one unit.”
Wiser said in addition to camp, he may take a look at what Clarion volleyball coach Shari Campbell does in terms of team-building activities.
“Shari does some really neat team-bonding things,” Wiser said.
Wiser said he is very excited to be working with Eggleton again and looks forward to mapping out the x’s and o’s and learning new things from the former C-L head man.
“I love sitting down and figuring out new ways to explore matchups,” Wiser said.
According to Wiser, his goal is to get 50 kids out from the three schools to play football.
“Will we? I hope we do,” Wiser said. “I want to get kids that haven’t been out. I want to have a solid junior varsity program and, hopefully, have a 10-game varsity schedule.”
Wiser said coaching football is just that: coaching football.
“My responsibility is to put the best kid on the field and get every kid to realize his dream in football,” Wiser said. “That is always the challenge.”
Looking at his team that will consist of some very talented skill players with Newcomb, who set the single-season District 9 rushing record last year, at running back, Cal German at quarterback and Ethan Buford at wide receiver – as well as a solid, experienced line headlined by Smith, an All-State lineman, Wiser can’t help but get excited.
“I am excited about the potential,” Wiser said. “But, you know me, I am not looking beyond Punxsutawney (Clarion’s first opponent in 2019). But, we have the opportunity if we do the kind of things we do every year, to come together and play as a group. What I know about these C-L kids and what I already know about the Clarion and North Clarion kids, they are going to get along and become a team very quickly.”
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