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New Baldwin football coach want to 'hit the ground running'

| Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
South Hills Record
Baldwin's dean of students, Pete Wagner, has taken over as head coach of the Fighting Highlanders' varsity football program. Randy Jarosz | For The South Hills Record

Discipline has been a major component in the athletic career of Pete Wagner.

Baldwin's newly hired head coach played football at Seton-La Salle High School, Valley Forge Military Academy and Morehead State University.

He has served as the dean of students and as an assistant football coach at Baldwin High School for the past four years.

Wagner, 30, was hired last week to take over as head coach of the Fighting Highlanders' varsity football program, following the announcement that Jim Wehner had resigned after four years at the helm.

“I am extremely excited to get to work,” Wagner said. “We have an incredible group of student-athletes who have a strong desire for a winning program.

“We are going to provide our athletes with a high level of instruction that is based on character development and fundamentals of the game of football. We have fantastic resources within our district from facilities to student support services, but the most important resource is the people of our district, and it will be important to continue to grow relationships that will ready our organization for the challenges that we will face.”

Wagner was Baldwin's offensive coordinator this past season, and he was been an assistant coach at Montour (2005-08) and a volunteer assistant during his college summers at Seton-La Salle.

Wagner also was an assistant coach at Morehead State in 2004.

He was an offensive tackle at Valley Forge in 2000 and 2001, and at Morehead State in 2002 and 2003.

“The biggest influence in my career has been a handful of coaches who have had an everlasting impact on me not only as a player, but more importantly as a person,” Wagner said. “The entire staff at Seton-La Salle helped to shape and mold my commitment to the game, and that was only reinforced through the great instruction I received at the college level.

“Additionally, coaching on (head coach) Lou Cerro's staff in the Montour School District was another fantastic experience because I had the opportunity to help rebuild a program from the ground up.”

Career development for student-athletes is important to Wagner, both on and off the field.

“My coaching philosophy is based on mental, physical and career development,” Wagner said. “The game of football is about struggle, and we have to enjoy the challenges that we face and rise above the adverse times.

“Our program is going to focus on developing young men who are going to be productive members of our society.”

The Fighting Highlanders were 12-25 overall in the past four years, after posting an 11-37 overall record in the five seasons prior to 2009.

Baldwin hasn't had a winning season in football since 2003.

“My immediate task will be investing in the relationships of all stakeholders of the organization,” Wagner said. “It will be extremely important for us to provide the necessary supports to the Baldwin-Whitehall Youth Football Association because they are our foundation.

“Working with our student-athletes as they transition from Harrison Middle School to the ninth grade, and ultimately to the varsity program, will be important.”

But a bottom line in athletics — whether at the high school, college or professional level — is winning. Wagner is hoping to put a plan in place to achieve that.

“We intend to hit the ground running and competing at the highest level,” Wagner said. “There is no place for mediocrity within the organization, and we will strive to be excellent in everything that we do.”

Ray Fisher is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5820 or rfisher@tribweb.com.

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