When Dick Angle took over the Howland football program in 1998, the Tigers were struggling both on and off the playing field. Wins were often hard to come by for a program that had made just one playoff appearance to date. But before Angle could calculate more victories, he had to find a way to restore interest in the sport, as the Tigers’ roster included fewer than 40 players.
Angle wasted little time in achieving both goals. His passion for the game helped attract athletes to the program in record numbers. Then, the Tigers advanced to the playoffs three straight years beginning in 2001. In 2007, Howland made a return trip to the postseason after going 10-0 for the first time in school history.
This year, Howland began 1-3, but is now 6-3 and on the verge of yet another postseason berth.
Angle, who previously spent 17 successful seasons at Ursuline, owns a 224-160-3 career record. More than 200 of his former players have gone on to play at the collegiate level, and of those more than 93 percent have earned a degree.
Angle is married to Dr. Bernadette J. Angle, a professor at Youngstown State University. Their son, Marc, is a 1999 graduate of the United States Military Academy.
Q. Regardless of how deep you might advance in the playoffs, will the Kline Forest (TX) team you played earlier this year be better than any Ohio team you will face?
A. “I’d have to say yes for several reasons. First of all, this was a school with an enrollment of 4,000 kids, so it goes without saying that they had a lot of talent to choose from. But beyond that, their coaching staff was enormous, and they have the advantage of being able to coach year around. They have spring football and such, whereas in Ohio, there are so many restrictions placed on what we can and can’t do.”
Q. What is the biggest difference between the Howland team that was 1-3 and the Howland team of today?
A. “Not much. We always had our nose to the grindstone and our kids never gave up. I think the only difference is that early in the year everyone was waiting for someone else to make the big play. Then all of a sudden that one play was made by an unexpected source in junior Mike Mangiarelli. Since then, we’ve had a number of guys step forward and lead this team forward.”
Q. What is your secret to helping so many of your athletes earn scholarships?
A: “I don’t think there is any magical ability, as films don’t lie. But on top of that, we try to relay our love and passion for the game to our players. Football is a great game, and if you really want to stay involved, there is a place out there for you. It doesn’t have to be Ohio State or Notre Dame, because there is a great football at every level. And once that kid does make the commitment, I’ll be sure to get him as much exposure as possible to provide him with the best opportunities available.”
Q. Who inspired your run-oriented style of coaching?
A. “My high school coaches at Ursuline [Jerry Hanlon, Tom Carey] and my mentor while I was an assistant at Campbell [Tony Cougras].
Q. Do you believe that there should be separate playoffs for public and parochial schools?
A. “No way. I always believed that parochial schools force us to play at a certain level, and that’s a good thing. We’ve never been jealous of their programs, but instead we have tried to learn from their success. The same thing can be said for when I was at Ursuline. Boardman and Fitch brought out the best in us. We always try to feed off the positives. And for those who suggest that tuition is paid for, they have another thing coming. It’s all about commitment, both academically and athletically. The only thing I don’t like is the mobility of some of today’s student-athletes. Whether is going from public to parochial or vice versa, I hate to see kids changing schools once they are established in a program solely for athletic reasons.”
Q. Do you still possess the same passion for coaching today that you did when your career first began?
A. “I have more passion than ever. Every year, when the season begins, it’s like being reborn again. If I didn’t feel this way, I wouldn’t cheat the players and stick around. But yeah, I’m as passionate about coaching today as I was thirty years ago.”
XInterview by Vindicator correspondent Steve Ruman.