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Wilson appointed as Esky FB head coach

ESCANABA — Dave Wilson has waited a long time for this opportunity.

After serving in a variety of positions for 22 years, Wilson was selected as head varsity football coach at Escanaba High School during a board meeting Monday night.

“I’m very excited and ready to go,” he said. “We’re starting with off-season conditioning with a new executive order (by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer). We can get the kids in small groups into the weight room. The biggest thing is I love football. My dad was my first coach in junior high, and I was fortunate enough to coach with Rusty Bluse and Paul Kangas on the jayvee level and Dan Flynn on the varsity level through 2006.”

Wilson takes over for Dave Howes, who coached the team for six years before stepping down last fall to spend more time with his family.

“That was disappointing because Dave (Howes) is one of my best friends,” said Wilson. “But he wanted to step down for his own reasons, and I still wanted to coach. I certainly like what coach Howes did with the program. We had a lot of success with him.”

Wilson served as athletic director from 2007-14 prior to coaching the freshmen and jayvees for a year apiece.

“Dave (Wilson) has been a part of the Eskymo family for many years,” said athletic director Tony Perino. “He has definitely been in the trenches and came highly recommended by previous coaches. We’re really blessed to have Dave (Wilson) as a teacher and coach. He’s really excited, and I’m excited for him. It’s always tough to interview for a position after a friend leaves. We’re trying to push the reset button, and I know Dave (Wilson) is looking to go back to the fundamentals and tweak a few things. He’s a coach of accountability, which is always good to see.”

Wilson said he enjoyed serving as AD, but wanted to go back to the classroom and coaching.

“It was a good job,” he added. “After coaching the freshmen and jayvees, I joined Dave Howes in 2016 and became line coach in 2017.

“I’m not going to change too many things. We’ll try to run the football, and on the high school level, you have to be able to stop the run. When I was in junior high, we ran a play called Greenville pass and will incorporate that into our playbook. It’s all about the fundamentals, blocking and tackling. Conditioning will be very important. The better condition you’re in, the more successful you’re going to be.”

Wilson inherits a program that qualified for the state playoffs the past five seasons but played just three games in 2020 due to Covid-19.

“I think, with COVID, we were really restricted this past year,” he said. “We had a good jayvee group. Unfortunately, they got to play in only one game, but they had a good game.

“We have good numbers. We’re looking forward to having a good season. Our schedule is a challenge, and the Great Northern Conference is a great challenge. I think all the GNC schools are on the upswing. We play Traverse City Central or West in Week 9. The Traverse City schools have a much bigger enrollment than we do and are very good teams.”

The Eskymos open their season against Antigo, Wis. in late August.

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