For the second time in his career, Rick Tomm has been selected as Eric Jantzi’s successor as North Tonawanda football coach.
Tomm was appointed coach during Monday night’s school board meeting, two weeks before the first official practice day for all scholastic teams in the state. At the same meeting, the school board accepted Jantzi’s resignation as head coach of North Tonawanda’s varsity football team for personal/family reasons.
“At this point with the season starting soon, I figured it’d be best to hire from within,” said Matt Cook, North Tonawanda’s athletic director.
“We’ve had great participation in the offseason, so we’re ready to go,” Tomm said. “Kids are resilient.”
When Jantzi stepped down after the 2010 season for family reasons, Tomm replaced him for the 2011 campaign with almost a full offseason to work with the team. Tomm guided the Lumberjacks to a 7-2 record and a playoff appearance. A turnover in the athletic administration along with members of the coaching staff starting families led to the staff stepping down after 2011, according to Tomm.
Jantzi, meanwhile, wound up as an assistant at Orchard Park, where he lives, in 2011. OP won the state title that season. He also had coaching stops at Springville and OP, again, before returning to North Tonawanda as head coach last season.
Jantzi, who guided the Lumberjacks to a state title in 2009 with most of the current coaching staff at the school, is still helping the program, according to Tomm.
“He’ll be working with us informally, behind the scenes,” Tomm said. “We’re more bummed out he can’t be coaching with us.”
Tomm, along with assistants Chris Cook and Corey Zayatz, started coaching with Jantzi during the mid to late 1990s.
Jantzi’s decision to step down caught Cook by surprise. Superintendent Greg Woytila told The News last month that the door would remain open should Jantzi want to coach in the future.
Erik O’Bryan, another longtime Jantzi assistant, has been promoted from junior varsity to varsity as an assistant and will coach defensive backs.
Stephen Franusiak takes over as JV coach at North Tonawanda.