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.”