TYRONE - The Tyrone Area School Board named former Golden Eagle Jason Wilson as its football coach on Monday night.
Wilson replaces Steve Guthoff, who resigned from the position in January after two seasons. Wilson was a member of Guthoff's staff and had coached and played for former coach John Franco.
"I'm going to keep the Friday night atmosphere, just like we had whenever I played here," Wilson, 28, said.
Wilson played wide receiver and defensive back for the Eagles from 2001-03 and has been coaching at Tyrone since 2004. Whenever Franco left for Altoona two years ago, Wilson didn't apply for the Tyrone opening.
"The first time the job opened I had twin 1-year-old sons, and they were more dependent on me at that time,'' Wilson said. "Family-wise, it wasn't the right time for me to be a head coach. But my heart has always been here. The kids here are really coachable, and I saw this as my opportunity now.''
Guthoff went 17-7 in his two seasons as head coach. Although the Eagles will graduate key players such as James Oliver, Erik Wagner and Seth Umholtz, Wilson said he has high hopes for this year's team.
"I think we have a good group coming back,'' he said. "We lost five key position players, but with the group we have back I think we'll continue to be successful. I'm really excited and ready to get started.''
Wilson, who is employed by Penn State University, will earn a $5,950 stipend as coach, with no benefits. He will also serve merely in that capacity and will not hold any other administrative or teaching positions in the district.
Wilson was mainly a defensive coach for the Eagles and was the defensive coordinator for the last five seasons. He said Franco, Guthoff and Rich Yahner were his top coaching mentors.
Franco, who held the Tyrone coaching job from 1994-2011, was one of the major names circulating to fill the vacancy, and many members of the Tyrone community supported his return. A petition in favor of Franco's return got hundreds of signatures from supporters.
Franco considered applying but eventually revealed he would stay at Altoona.
Eight people applied for the Tyrone position, and five were interviewed, according to Tyrone athletic director Luke Rhoades.
"Jason's familiarity with the program, being both a player and a coach the last several years, and his ability to carry on the Tyrone football tradition and his strong work ethic, we felt made him a great fit for the position,'' Rhoades said.
Wilson and his wife, Heather, have twin 3-year-old sons, Jaryn and Colton.