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.