Three of a kind: Football coaches who took different routes
They are the new head football coaches at Bentworth, Ringgold and Charleroi, respectively.
While all will be coaching their first games at their new schools Friday night, each came into their jobs through different circumstances.
Skiles is on his third tour of duty with Bentworth, where he guided one of the more successful Class A programs in the area in the 1980s.
Milchovich is back coaching in the Mid-Mon Valley after coaching at Peters Township from 2007-10. Previously, he coached at California Area and Charleroi.
Militzer is at his second school after serving just one season at Class AAAA Gateway.
“Best place for me”
Militzer almost did not go to Charleroi as a replacement for Ed Jenkins.
“The day before Charleroi offered me the job, I was offered the job at Shaler,” Militzer said.
Militzer, the principal at Madonna Catholic in Monongahela, said Charleroi was a closer job, and after he thought it over, the better job.
“The facilities here are amazing. The kids are excited. The community has been receptive,” he said. “This is the best place for me.”
Militzer said the first thing he wanted to do was change the losing attitude that permeated a program that hadn't enjoyed a winning season since 2009.
“We had to change the attitude,” he said. “With losing comes negativity. You need to make sure that everybody is positive, even the coaches. That's a big part of it.”
And he wanted to set lofty goals from the start.
“I believe in setting high expectations,” he said. “Sometimes coaches are afraid to set expectations high. I don't know why, because I like setting the goals high.
“If you come up a little short, you are probably still ahead of where you thought you could be in the first place. I set very high goals and expectations for these kids when I came in here.”
He said when he arrived at Charleroi he discovered kids who played hesitantly, who were afraid to make mistakes.
“You have to be aggressive in this game. If you make a mistake and you're lined up wrong or you go into the wrong gap, if you go hard you just might run into the ball,” he said. “We joked the other day in practice that the more we think, the worse we are.
“With this particular Charleroi team, the less we think the better off we are.”
In his one season at Gateway, Militzer guided the Gators to an 8-3 record and a WPIAL Class AAAA playoff win. Then he was let go.
“That was just chaos,” he said of his year at Gateway. “I was thrown into a situation that was complete and utter chaos. So many people were on different pages, had a different agenda.
“I'm just happy I'm at Charleroi right now. It's a much better situation for me, and so far I've enjoyed every minute of it.”
Third time charm?
Skiles is definitely no stranger to Bentworth.
He graduated from the school in 1962, and was a standout quarterback and running back.
He returned to his alma mater as head coach in 1981 for eight seasons and compiled an impressive 53-26 record. His teams featured some of the more entertaining offenses during those years.
The Bearcats were known for a wide-open offense back when it wasn't fashionable.
After leaving Bentworth in 1988, Skiles served as an offensive consultant at several schools, including Charleroi and Belle Vernon Area.
He returned to Bentworth as coach again in 2004. In four seasons, his teams won 13 games but made it to the second round of the Class A playoffs in 2005.
The Bearcats have not made the postseason since.
Skiles said his roots in the community and school district pulled him back home again.
“This is home to me,” he said. “I went to school here. I played football here. I taught here. I coached here. I feel I owe a lot to Bentworth, and when people reached out to me this time, I responded.”
Skiles is going to do his best to bring his wide-open style of play to the Bearcat offense, but said it won't be easy.
“I am confident in what I believe in as a coach,” he said. “But it takes a lot of work. You have to teach the quarterback and the receivers what to do and how to do it. It takes time and is repetitive.
“But I will tell you one thing: the field is 53 yards wide and we're going to do our best to use as much of that field offensively as we can.”
Skiles says the early signs of his third term at the school are very positive.
“The community and administration have been very receptive,” he said. “They treat me like a rock star.
“And the kids are very willing to listen and learn. They want to improve. That is uplifting. We have more athletes here than I originally thought we might have.
“We're in a hole. I don't know if we are one year away or two years away, but we're going to continue to work and find things out.”
No rebuilding Ringgold
Unlike Skiles and Militzer, Milchovich is not facing a massive rebuilding project at Ringgold.
The Rams will go into the season as one of the top teams in the Big Nine Conference.
“We've got good players, obviously,” Milchovich said. “I think (prior coach Matt Humbert) did a great job here. This is the first time I've been in a situation like this.
“Usually, I have to rebuild and I don't mind that. But this is different. We have a good team, but we can always get better.”
Milchovich said he did not think he would be a head coach again so soon after he finished at Peters Township.
“I figured at some point it would be possible, but I thought maybe down the road I would start out as an assistant at a local team first,” he said.
“Actually, I inquired to Matt last year about joining his staff at Ringgold, but he was full. And once this job opened, I went for it. It is perfect for me.”
Milchovich, a Charleroi graduate who lives in nearby Venetia, said he would only consider a local job.
“I'm a Valley guy and with my job and family, I knew no matter where I would coach in the future it would have to be local,” he said. “Ringgold is perfect for me. I couldn't be happier.”
Milchovich said the players have taken to his staff and style easily, and he is happy with the transition going into the start of the season.
And while the Rams have a talented team going in, he knows there is still work to be done.
“We have a good team, yes, but we've got to want to improve,” he said. “No matter how good you are, you can always get better. You can always work harder.
“We're not at square one, but we aren't where we want to be as a team yet.”
Jeff Oliver is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2666 or firstname.lastname@example.org.