By Joe Scalzo
In his nine years as an assistant coach at Boardman High School (most of them spent coaching running backs and defensive linemen), Joe Ignazio has mentored several Division I athletes, including Ohio State recruits J.T. Moore and Corey Linsley.
But when asked what he wants his team to look like, he didn’t talk about athletic ability or formations.
“We’ve got smart kids and we’ve got tough kids,” said Ignazio, a 1993 Boardman High graduate who was named Boardman’s head coach on Thursday night. “You have to be that way in order to compete in the league that we’re in.
“I’m a family guy. I’m big on character. I want kids with class. I want kids who do well academically. I want them to be respectful. Those are things my parents instilled in me.”
Ignazio will be the Spartans’ third head coach in four seasons. He replaces Mark D’Eramo, who stepped down after going 11-10 the past two years, including a playoff berth and a share of the Federal League title in 2011.
Ignazio, a Youngstown State graduate who teaches science at Boardman Center Middle School, began coaching at Boardman during Garry Smith’s last year and remained under D.J. Ogilvie and D’Eramo. He interviewed for the head position two years ago.
“My feeling was, if I could get an interview, I could get my foot in the door and try to impress them,” he said. “From what I heard, I did that this time.
“I’ve been around this program for a long time and I thought it was time for me to move up in my career.”
Boardman athletic director Dave Smercansky said Spartans fans are getting a disciplinarian who works well with students and relates well to athletes. Smercansky also praised Ignazio’s efforts with the junior high track program the past few years.
“We’re really excited we were able to hire from within,” Smercansky said. “In my experience, it works best when you have somebody in the system. Unfortunately he’s not in the building but he’ll have some coaches in the building who can keep tabs on the kids. That works wonders.”
Ignazio said he wants to finalize his staff before deciding on offensive and defensive schemes. He said the staff will be a mixture of current coaches and newcomers.
“When you have a Division I program like Boardman, you’re going to get a lot of interest from the outside,” he said. “There’s gonna be some guys that stick around but I want some new blood in here.
“This senior class, it’s remarkable that this will be their third coach since they were freshmen. It’ll be good to get some fresh faces in here.”