To Brian Shaner, coaching football is coaching football. The what is more important than the where.
After 10 years as a head coach with Youngstown City Schools, the Warren native is now leading a new program — Niles.
Joined by his wife, Natalie, Shaner was introduced to the Niles Board of Education and about 20 Red Dragon staff members at a special board meeting on Thursday night. He was nominated by superintendent Mark Robinson and accepted by the board members.
“I think the biggest difference is facilities,” Shaner said of moving on after a decade of work with Rayen and East. “Niles does very well providing coaches with great facilities and the home stadium, weight room here in the locker room, coaching offices — it’s all right here.”
The Harding High graduate will retain his job as a teacher with Youngstown City Schools, while assuming the coaching role with the Dragons. He said he will strive to be as visible as possible at Niles, working with teachers on study tables and helping struggling student-athletes to get their grades on track.
“I will be in the building as much as I can,” Shaner said. “I believe in education first and the boys have to excellent students to be excellent football players.”
Shaner’s assistant coaching staff is “90 percent complete” and will include Lakeview’s former offensive coordinator Jim Bell. Chet Allen from Liberty and Dennis Parise of East will serve as co-defensive coordinators. Bill Burton is also coming over from East and running back coach George Gulgas will be retained from the previous Niles staff.
“I think we will have the best coaching staff in the area,” Shaner said. “They’re leaving well-known programs to put us back on top. We will not play second fiddle anymore.”
Niles finished 5-5 in 2011 and was 14-26 under Brad Yeager, who resigned after the season.
Shaner totaled a record of 44-46 in his 10 years as a head coach. The Panthers went 3-7 a year ago and will be coached by Jim Vivo in 2012.
Shaner will waste no time in preparing for next year’s season. He is meeting with Red Dragons players at 10 a.m. today to introduce himself and members of the coaching staff.
“Meeting the boys and getting them acclimated to myself and the coaching staff is the most important part, right now,” he said. “We’re here to be the best football coaches we can be to them and open up a family atmosphere.”