New Charleroi head football coach Donnie Militzer’s first day on the job was much like anyone elses. The former Gateway head coach and assistant at Washington & Jefferson met with his new boss, athletic director Bill Wiltz, and he found his new office cluttered with stacks of mail lying on the desk.
His spring cleaning job will be similar to the one Militzer will undertake when trying to revitalize the Cougars’ football program, which has not won a WPIAL title since 1959.
Charleroi School Board Tuesday night approved Militzer as the Cougars’ third head coach in four years after Ed Jenkins, who went 4-14 in two seasons, resigned late last month due to an illness.
After spending just one year at Gateway following stints as an assistant coach at W&J, Carnegie Mellon, Peters Township and Bishop Canevin, Militzer did not hesitate at the opportunity to become a head coach again. He credits his time at smaller college programs with shaping him as a head coach, which included working alongside former high school head coaches.
“It’s something that has been a part of be for a long time,” Militzer said. “The big thing for me was finding the right situation. I had some opportunities to do some other things, but when this job opened up, I knew it was the kind of situation I wanted to be in. I’m just thrilled to death they are giving me the opportunity.”
Militzer, a graduate of Keystone Oaks and Robert Morris, is currently the principal at Madonna Catholic Regional School in Monongahela. After commuting to Monroeville to coach the Gateway in 2013, where he led the Gators to an 8-3 record and a trip to the WPIAL Class AAAA quarterfinals, Militzer jumped at the opportunity to coach closer to his workplace.
A spread, high-tempo offensive coach by trade, Militzer was hired over six other finalists and received a base salary of $4,502.
For Wiltz, the goal was to find a leader who believed in the athletes and who wanted to help build success at a school that recently built a $5.5-million football complex.
“I think he’s the guy who is going to take us to the next step,” Wiltz said. “He is very enthusiastic and during the interview process, he showed how much he cares about the kids. He is very positive in his approach. He stood out above the others.”
Militzer, who began his coaching career at Bishop Canevin, remembered facing the Cougars when the two teams played one another every year. It was the type of football players the school produced that drew him to Charleroi.
“They had tough, hard-nosed kids who worked hard,” Militzer said. “When you have something like that, you can develop a program. I see potential to do some pretty big things here. The facilities are as nice as any school in any classification.”
Senior quarterback Nick Carr fits Militzer’s vision for the offense, and Charleroi only lost six seniors from last year’s team.
After taking over for longtime Gateway head coach Terry Smith, who is now an assistant coach under James Franklin at Penn State, Militzer knows about pressure. Gators fans expect a championship every year.
“It’s a good feeling when you can win games at that level because every week is a grind,” Militzer said. “Winning games there definitely did good things for my confidence as a coach. I really felt blessed with my time there, and I learned all the ins and outs of being a head coach. I probably got 10 years of head coaching experience in one year, but everything happens for a reason and I’m happy to be here.”