Chris Summers has woven quite a career path as an assistant football coach, yet it is a route any who are interested in ultimately landing a head coach position often are forced to take.
Summers’ circuitous journey finally ended on Thursday, and as fate would have it, that long road led Summers right back home.
Summers, who spent the past eight seasons as the top offensive assistant at Holy Family, was named the new head football coach at Erie — right in the middle of the community Summers has called home the past 12 years.
Summers already has a son attending Erie Middle School and a daughter attending Erie Elementary School. Now their dad will be prowling the sidelines for the Tigers.
“It’s a dream come true,” Summers said. “We feel so fortunate and blessed to represent this school and community. We’ve lived here 12 years and it’s a dream come true. We’re already so embedded in the community, so it’s a sweet deal for us and it will be an easy transition.”
While this will be Summers’ first head coach assignment, he boasts an extensive resume as an assistant, having made stops at Adams City, Horizon, Westminster, and Standley Lake before his recent eight-year stint with the roundly successful program at Holy Family.
“He has a lot of energy and has been up in our booth, helping with play calls,” Holy Family coach Mike Gabriel said. “What he brings to our program is really going to be missed, but we’re very happy for him and this is a great opportunity.”
Erie athletic director Richie Wildenhaus said he received about 50 applicantions for the position and that 14 were given initial interviews. Throughout the process, Wildenhaus said the vision and long-term direction Summers outlined for the future of the Erie program meshed perfectly with the Erie administration.
“Chris certainly separated himself from the pack,” Wildenhaus said. “We felt he was primed for a head coach position and I believe everything he has done up to this point has been to land his dream job, and that’s to coach at Erie High School.”
Summers has big shoes to fill as he replaces Larry Gartrell, whose 18-year run at Erie included a record of 105-88 and the Class 1A state championship in 1997. While Gartrell’s old-school approach often had the Tigers operating like a machine — Erie went 6-3 last fall and produced a pair of 1,000-yard rushers — it’s a safe bet Summers will implement a system designed to exceed the 5.8 pass attempts per game the Tigers averaged in 2013.
“We have to find some guys who can throw the ball and we’ll have to find some guys who can catch the ball,” said Summers, a teacher at Frederick. “We’ll hit the ground running after (spring) break next week. They’ve done some good things here over the years and we hope to continue those traditions.”
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