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Ex-Jacks pilot Jantzi is a finalist for NT coaching job

There's a chance a blast from the past will be taking over the North Tonawanda football program.

Eric Jantzi is one of the two finalists for the Lumberjacks' head coaching position, according to NT Superintendent of Schools Greg Woytila.

Jantzi, who teaches in the district, served as North Tonawanda coach back when the program won the New York State Public High Schools Athletic Association Class AA championship during a 13-0 campaign in 2009.

The other candidate is also a familiar face with the program in Henry Fumerelle, who coached NT in 2015 and 2016 but missed last year while recovering from serious injuries suffered in a car accident. Dan Troy coached in his place last season.

The NT Board of Education will discuss and vote on the matter during its meeting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.

While there are two experienced coaches vying for the job, which are typically one-year appointments, Jantzi may have an inside edge. Unlike Fumerelle, Janzti teaches within the district, which tends to give preference to its employees in filling coaching vacancies. Also, Woytila said he's recommending Jantzi for the position.

"My recommendation is because I thought it would be a little more stable," Woytila said. "They're both good coaches. I thought it was a win-win situation."

Jantzi stepped down at North Tonawanda in 2010 after 11 seasons to spend more time with his family. However, he stayed in the game as assistant at Orchard Park (2011-13) and then at his alma mater Springville (2014).

He returned to head coaching in 2015 at Springville, taking over for Rob Valenti after his wife gave birth to twins though Valenti stayed on as an assistant. Jantzi led Springville to a division title in his two seasons on the sideline.

He stepped down after 2016 due to logistics, saying his job as a biology teacher at NT often made it difficult for him to arrive to practices on time and oversee off-season workouts. Springville had an earlier dismissal time for its students than North Tonawanda. The commute from NT to Springville during rush hour also made it challenging to get to practices after school. Janzti served as a volunteer assistant at Orchard Park last season.

Fumerelle has posted winning records in his two seasons with the Lumberjacks, guiding them to an 11-6 mark overall and two playoff appearances.

Prior to taking over for Tony Trulizio, Fumerelle previously served as head coach at Williamsville East and also had coaching gigs at St. Mary's of Lancaster and Tonawanda.

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