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High School Football

Beal era is over at Brunswick

  • mgc14color4colbeal-jpg

    Luke Beal won't return as Brunswick High School football coach.

    RON SCHWANE / GAZETTE

BRUNSWICK — The Luke Beal era of Brunswick football has ended.

The 44-year-old was informed Monday that his contract will not be renewed after compiling a 36-36 record and two playoff appearances over seven seasons.

The Blue Devils were 2-8 this fall — the school’s worst record since 1974 (1-9) — and had to win in Week 10 to share sixth place in the eight-team Greater Cleveland Conference. The season was marred by a national controversy when allegations of racial slurs led to multiple starters being suspended.

“Well, it was obviously a tough year for us,” Beal said. “We had a lot of really adverse circumstances, and there were things that were unusual. The type of adversity this team faced is unlike anything I’d seen, and it was out of our control.

“We did our best to hold the team together, and I’m really proud of how the team finished the season. Our kids never gave up. They never quit. They learned to face difficult situations like men. I have no regrets in terms of the way we handled things. The school has made their decision, but I wish I would have been given an opportunity to move us past the tough challenges that we faced. I was not going to give up on this team.”

Beal came to Brunswick in 2010 as the replacement for retiring hall of famer Rich Nowak, then the Medina County career wins leader with a 152-49 record and a school-record nine consecutive playoff appearances. Beal’s r←sum← featured multiple Division V playoff appearances and a misleading 56-51 record at Fredericktown, which went 35-9 over his last four seasons.

Beal was not Brunswick’s first choice, as the job was initially offered to then-Highland coach Tom Lombardo, who declined and led Highland to the D-II state semifinals in 2013 before leaving for St. Edward after the 2014 season. The Blue Devils then passed up longtime assistant Mark Pinzone, who has since had tremendous success as head coach at Holy Name and Buckeye.

“I’m the type of person that’s willing to accept the challenge,” Beal said of replacing Nowak. “We knew we were headed into a league (GCC) that was very difficult, but we were competitive.

“Certainly this year we would have been competitive, but we had some suspensions and injuries that put us into this situation.”

Brunswick compiled 5-5, 6-4, 7-3, 6-5, 7-4, 3-7 and 2-8 records under Beal and made D-I playoff appearances in 2013 and ’14 with Steven Ficyk at quarterback. The Blue Devils lost to Mentor and St. Edward 37-3 and 42-0 in the first round.

Beal developed a reputation for being open-minded on offense, initially implementing I-formation sets with career rushing leader Nick Roberts at tailback but switching to a mixture of spread looks with Ficyk.

Brunswick then went all-in with the flexbone triple-option made famous by the Naval Academy. The results were mixed, as the Blue Devils averaged 16.9 and 22.6 points and dealt with injuries at quarterback.

Brunswick also struggled in close games in recent years, having lost eight of its last nine decided by eight or fewer points. The Blue Devils had won eight of their first 11 such games under Beal.

Beal, who will remain a social studies teacher at Brunswick High, didn’t look at his tenure in terms of wins and losses, but how the program endured adversity, notably this season as well as when players Blake Bartchak and Jeff Chaya were tragically killed in a 2012 car accident.

“If you look at the type of challenges that we faced and how our coaching staff and players handled these challenges, our kids learned a lot about teamwork and life,” Beal said. “They were still playing hard at the end of the season and coming to practice with good attitudes and playing like a family despite having to go through things 16- and 17-year-olds shouldn’t have to go through.

“In that regard, our team did some things those kids should be proud of.”

Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or agrindle@medina-gazette.com.

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