By Jean DePlacido
---- — Highly successful former Peabody High School football coach Ed Nizwantowski will be inducted into the Massachusetts High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
The event will take place on Sunday, April 28, at an awards banquet held at Lantana’s in Randolph.
Nizwantowski is the third football coach in Peabody High history to receive this prestigious honor, joining the late Bill Seeglitz and Art Adamopoulos, who were inducted in 1962 and 1985, respectively. All three are also members of the Peabody High School Athletic Hall of Fame.
“I am honored and very humbled to be chosen,” Nizwantowski said from Florida, where he is visiting his former University of Tampa roommate and seeing old friends.
“I was very fortunate to be blessed with good student-athletes who bought into our system. I also had great (assistant) coaches and we were all on the same page, so we didn’t need to have a lot of meetings. Most of them either played for me or for Arthur (Adamopoulos).”
Nizwantowski, a 1964 Peabody High graduate, was a three-sport star in football, hockey and baseball. He was a very mobile quarterback who did damage both running and throwing the football before going on to star at QB at Tampa.
He went on to became the Tanners’ head coach from 1982-2004, amassing a 179-64-6 overall record and leading Peabody to 19 winning seasons, including 13 straight at the end of his tenure. His teams won at least seven games each season from 1993-04 and his program had the highest winning percentage of any local team during the 1990s.
“We had the best football record in Division 1 in the entire state back then,” said Nizwantowski. “Many times we were nationally ranked. One reason for our success was so many of our quarterbacks started out as water boys when they were in the fifth and sixth grades (something Nizwantowski did as a youngster). Steve Lomasney, Billy Woods and Kevin Mulvey all got their start (that way). By the time they got to the high school, they knew our system better than I did.”
Back in 1999, Nizwantowski passed his old coach, Adamopoulos, as Peabody’s all time leader in gridiron wins. Adamopoulos was 129-60-16 in the years spanning 1961-81.
Under Nizwantowski, the Tanners won eight Greater Boston League championships and went to the Super Bowl five times, winning in both 1990 and 1993. The other appearances came in ‘83, ‘86 and ‘94.
“Niz belongs in the Hall of Fame,” said his long-time assistant coach and friend Terry Lee, who first met Nizwantowski when they played together on the seventh grade team in Peabody in 1958. “He earned it with astonishing coaching. He got the job four days before the ‘82 season began, and the following year we went to the Super Bowl.
“You have to be able to motivate kids, and Niz certainly did. The accolades speak for themselves. This is a very deserving honor. He was a powerful coach who treated kids the right way so they wanted to play for him.”
For Nizwantowski, who was also the highly successful Tanner baseball coach for many years, far more important than wins and losses was the effect playing football had on so many boys.
“The biggest joy I got out of coaching was seeing young boys come in at 14 or 15 years old and leave as young men a few years later,” he said. “I’d like to think we had something to do with that. So many of them are now teachers, doctors, dentists, mechanics and businessmen in the community, which gives me a lot of fulfillment seeing them as productive members of society and thinking we might have had a part in their development.”