Midway through his fifth season at the helm of the Peabody High Tanners' football program, Scott Wlasuk has just stepped down as head coach.
School Superintendent Joe Mastrocola informed the School Committee, and thereby the public, Tuesday night that Wlasuk had turned in his resignation late that afternoon.
Mastrocola said he knew Wlasuk had spoken with and emailed Athletic Director Phil Sheridan and PVMHS Principal Ed Sapienza, but could not offer further details to reporters Tuesday night other than that Wlasuk was resigning for personal reasons.
Mastrocola said that, for now, assistant coach Matt O'Brien has been promoted to replace Wlasuk.
In an interview with the Salem News, Wlasuk indicated the poor start to this season, 0-5 and handily outscored each game, in addition to not being able to turn around an overall losing record with the team yet, had something to do with his decision.
“I think it was time to move on...I think it was a mutual thing and I think it’s a situation where maybe some change in philosophy will be a good thing,” he said.
He said he takes “full responsibility for everything that’s happened” and that he's been on the receiving end of "a lot outside pressure" for the past two weeks.
Sheridan told the Salem News he anticipates conducting a search for a permanent hire this winter. He said he relayed the news to the team and continues to speak highly of Wlasuk.
“Right or wrong, you want good people as your coaches and Scott is good people,” Sheridan told the Salem News, saying the same of O'Brien.
"Scott is a terrific guy, he put his heart and soul into the program. We wish him luck," Sheridan said via email.
School Committee members said Tuesday night they were saddened to hear of Wlasuk's departure.
"I know sometimes the best laid plans don't work out," David McGeney said, going on to praise Wlasuk for being a top quality coach.
"I know he gave it everything he had, as he does with everything," McGeney said.
By all accounts, Wlasuk was well regarded among his coaching peers -- he received the NEC/CAL Tier 1 Coach of the Year Award for the 2011 season -- and similarly respected by players and parents.
School Committee member Beverley Griffin Dunne, who told reporters after the meeting she was unaware of Wlasuk's reasons for leaving, said he put his "heart and soul" into the team.
"I feel badly bcause he really grew up in that program," she said.
Wlasuk, a Peabody police lieutenant whose two sons Sean and Cody have played football for him, is a former Tanner himself -- he played football at Peabody High in the 1970s under Arthur Adamopoulos, returned to the Tanners as an assistant coach under Ed Nizwantowski for nearly 20 years and spent another year with Dick Woodbury, before landing the top job.
As in everything, Wlasuk brought an intense personality and dedication to the job, unabashedly displaying that emotional drive on the sidelines and regularly praising his players for their hard work and dedication, win or lose.
The Salem News reports that Wlasuk turned in a 17-31 record in his 4-1/2 seasons as head coach, an improvement over the three seasons before that in which the Tanners went 6-25.