FROSTBURG — It’s a new era for Frostburg State football, with the university introducing Eric Wagoner as its 14th head coach on Wednesday morning during a virtual press conference.
Wagoner was named head coach on Jan. 13, nearly a month after DeLane Fitzgerald accepted a job as the head coach at Division I Southern Utah.
“I think I might be more excited than everyone else in this,” Wagoner said. “I sit here and I’m excited to get started and feel extremely honored to be in this position right now as the next head football coach at Frostburg State. Started as a defensive coordinator here two years ago and never in my mind did I think I’d be seated in this seat today. It’s taken a couple crazy turns but I’ve enjoyed every second of it.
“When I came out here two years ago to interview as the defensive coordinator, I fell in love with the area, the campus and as my time over these last two years coaching, just the players now and the team that we’ve developed here . Really all the way from the top down. The administration has been so supportive of the football program. … It’s just going to be, I feel like, an absolute great fit.”
Wagoner says he plans to get to work immediately to find an offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator, a position he held under Fitzgerald the past two seasons.
“Well first thing is getting on it right now because we need to get that tied up,” he said of his plans to fill out his staff. “With recruiting still in swing and spring ball picking up and winter conditioning, getting those coaches in here as soon as possible is going to be extremely important. Looking for coaches that fit our team. I’m not wanting to go out and find coaches that are different from what we think this team should be. This team has always been a very hard-working, in my opinion, blue-collar type team. Going to fill out a staff of guys that work hard, that have a lot of respect for the players, that have great knowledge of the game of football and great recruiters from that standpoint to get them out and build the program for the future.”
According to frostburgsports.com, five coaches are on Wagoner’s staff thus far. Angelo Luvara is sticking around as the offensive line coach, as is Matt Puffenberger as the wide receivers coach. Scott Fahey will coach tight ends and fullbacks, Kyle Wiggins will work with the safeties and Kennan Chesnick is listed as an assistant.
“I look at it as an opportunity to step in to a program that has transitioned and had a great deal of success in Division III, has transitioned extremely well and at a high level in Division II, and that we’re going to continue to take it at that aspect,” Wagoner said. “I’ve talked to the guys a lot, especially guys the last couple of days that have stopped in, they made this transition in ’19, they were kind of hunting everyone else in the conference.
“They’ve got to understand that with the success we’ve had, we’re not going to be able to sneak up on anybody anymore. Guys have to be able to come in and be prepared from that aspect. They’ve got to know that every day, every time we go out there, we’re going to get somebody’s else’s best shot and we have to be able to stop that and make sure that we’re putting our best shot out there. Just because of the success that they’ve had, they’ve got to be able to take it up a level. There’s no maintaining that success.”
Wagoner brings 15 years of coaching experience, going 13-2 during the past two seasons after moving east to Frostburg having spent the previous 13 years as part of legendary NAIA coach Kevin Conley’s staff at Saint Francis in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
The promotion of Wagoner issues a sense of continuity from the success Fitzgerald and Co. brought to the program.
“I think when a lot of people get into coaching, eventually they want to work their way as high as they can,” Wagoner said. “Being a head football coach has always been something that I wanted to do. Whether it happens now at 37 or it happens 10 years from now at 47, it was going to be something that was always going to be a goal. But being in the program for the last two years, it just felt like a natural fit. … I just have a great sense of the team and how it’s built and what ideals that we hold and the values we think are important and the hard work that guys put in. It was just one of those things that I felt like was such a good fit to be able to hopefully step in and continue that.”
Kyle Bennett is a sports reporter for the Cumberland Times-News. Follow him on Twitter @KyleBennettCTN.