Wiley hired to lead Deer Lakes football program
T.J. Wiley knows what it's like to beat the odds.
Once told he couldn't play quarterback because of his 5-foot-8 size, he went on to pass for more than 4,000 yards at Titusville High School and started for three years at Thiel before a short stint in the arena league.
Later, he was labeled “crazy” for taking over as coach at Northgate, but he led the flickering Flames to a playoff spot in his first season.
Now, onto the next challenge in which he's supposed to fail.
Wiley was hired Tuesday to be the next football coach at Deer Lakes, replacing Todd Hazlett, who was not retained after six seasons.
“I like to prove people wrong,” said Wiley, 33, who was at Northgate the past two seasons. “Deer Lakes' struggles have been well-documented. I am not naive to that. When I took over Northgate, they had only six wins in five years. I was hired in June, a month and a half before training camp, but we had a winning season and made the (Class A) playoffs. It can be done.”
A former assistant at Titusville and Shaler, Wiley also was the head coach at Penn-Trafford for one season, in 2009, before resigning for personal reasons.
Wiley lives in Allison Park and teaches special needs children at Bradley Center in Robinson Township.
Deer Lakes made its first WPIAL playoff appearance two years ago, but went 2-8 and 3-6 the past two seasons.
“There is more of a true foundation for success in place,” Wiley said. “I'm not going to tell you we're going to win a WPIAL championship next year, but I really believe we'll come in and be competitive. The kids will be prepared.
“I just hope people doubt us.”
It wouldn't be the first time.
Bill Beckner Jr. is the Local Sports Editor of the Valley News Dispatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.