By Greg Gulas
When Tim Saxton was hired as Boardman High principal in the spring of 2002, the first congratulatory note he received came from then-assistant football coach Mark D’Eramo.
On Monday, with Saxton’s recommendation, the Boardman Board of Education unanimously approved by a 5-0 vote the hiring of D’Eramo as the Spartans’ head coach.
He replaces D.J. Ogilvie, who resigned in March after seven years to accept a similar position at Lemon Bay in Sarasota, Fla.
“Mark may have had some other stops along the way, but if you cut him open he would bleed maroon and white,” said Saxton.
“He’s a man of integrity and character and has a passion not only for our athletics programs, but for our academics, the arts and everything about our school system.”
A 1981 Ursuline High graduate, D’Eramo becomes a head coach for the first time after serving as an assistant for 26 years at Brookfield, Chardon, Austintown Fitch and Boardman.
He’s been on the Spartans’ staff since 1992, serving as quarterbacks and defensive backs coach under former coaches Dan Pallante, Garry Smith and Ogilvie.
“I’m thrilled, yet very humbled,” said D’Eramo. “I have always wanted to be a head coach with one of my purposes in life to take a group of young men, and then lead them to something special.
“I have been fortunate to learn from a lot of excellent coaches,” added D’Eramo. “Guys like Dave Hartman at Fitch, Bob Doyle at Chardon and of course Dan, Garry and D.J. here at Boardman.
“I take a little bit from each of them and that is my coaching personality,” D’Eramo said.
A biology/anatomy and physiology teacher, D’Eramo was the one internal candidate who stood head and shoulders above the other applicants.
“Our whole staff will remain intact with Joe Cleghorn remaining as our offensive coordinator, and Mike Popio our defensive coordinator,” said D’Eramo.
“There will be unity and consistency during the transition period and that is very important. Just being in the building during the day is a huge plus. You can build relationships and not only do they get to see you, but you get to see them as well.
“To me, it is critical to have someone there for them during the day,” he added.
Dave Smercansky, Boardman’s athletic director, called D’Eramo the perfect fit for the coaching vacancy.
“Mark is an outstanding individual who fits with the Boardman High philosophy,” said Smercansky. “He’s a passionate teacher and coach whose number one concern is the kids.
“The other important thing is he will inherit an excellent staff that is already in place. While D.J. got the program back on track, it is now up to Mark to take it to the next level.”
D’Eramo will have his first team meeting with both coaches and staff on Wednesday.