SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Sports

August 31, 2010

You Gotta Believe

For 23 years, Nizwantowski convinced players to buy into his system, resulting in enormous success

Steve Lomasney remembers the feeling.

He was just a boy at the time, but while acting as the Peabody High football team's water boy and watching his big brother Eddie and his teammates win the 1990 Super Bowl, something sunk into Lomasney's young brain.

"I wanted to be those guys as a 13-year-old kid. I wanted to go 11-0 and say that we were the best team when we stepped on the field," Lomasney, the Peabody High quarterback from 1992-94, said.

"That was instilled in those guys in 1985 and '86 and those great teams that played Brockton. I'm 33 years old and still talking about those teams and the tradition of Peabody football. The greatness they achieved, winning season after winning season, you thought, 'I have to carry this tradition on.' That's what made it so special."

What made it so special was head coach Ed Nizwantowski, who guided the Tanners from 1982-2004. He made Peabody High football the best show in town and created a tradition that made young men want to play — and win — for him and his program.

During Nizwantowski's tenure the Tanners accumulated a 174-59-4 record (.743 winning percentage). He has the most wins in program history, surpassing another legend: his former coach, Arthur Adamopoulos, in 1999.

He led the Tanners to 19 winning seasons, including 13 straight at the end of his career, and led the area in winning percentage in the 1990s.

Nizwantowski also patrolled the Tanners to five Super Bowls (1983, '86, '90, '93, '94), winning titles in 1990 over Tewksbury (20-14) and 1993 over St. John's Prep (36-0).

"As they became successful, it was kind of like a mystique. You always felt confident on the field with him," said Scott Wlasuk, the current Peabody High head coach and former Nizwantowski assistant. "If it was hostile on the sideline, you felt confident standing next to him. He'd find a way to win."

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