Sports

Football: Wildcatz find new head coach

Former Warren coach set to lead Eastland-Pearl City

Jared McNutt
Jared McNutt

Eastland-Pearl City has found its new football coach, and it’s a name familiar to the NUIC. 

Jared McNutt, football coach and athletic director at Warren High School, was approved by both the Eastland and Pearl City school boards Wednesday to take over the Wildcatz’ football cooperative. 

McNutt replaces Randy Asche, who stepped down after 11 years at the helm to focus on his day job at Lanark Ag. 

“I’m looking forward to getting my feet wet, meet the guys, and get the coaching staff all aligned,” McNutt said. “I’m looking forward to getting things rolling and get going.”

The Warren football program was in limbo, similar to several of the smaller programs in the NUIC, in regard to numbers. Talks with co-oping with nearby Black Hawk High School in South Wayne, Wisconsin had been going on during the off-season, and the Warren School Board announced Wednesday that they will be make the partnership official.

Uncertain of his status as head coach, McNutt looked elsewhere.

“Our school decided that with our numbers situation that they were going to co-op in a couple of years, and I just didn’t know the outcome of my position,” McNutt said. “I wasn’t sure what was going to happen with me, so I saw that [the EPC] position was open, and put my application in for teaching and coaching, and it just all worked out for the better.”

McNutt is a 2009 graduate of Warren, where he played football, basketball and baseball. He played football for the Warren-River Ridge co-op, and made a 2A playoff appearance in 2005. After high school, McNutt starred at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where he set Division-III passing records and led the Kohawks to a 10-0 season in 2012 as team captain. 

After graduation, McNutt served as wide receivers and quarterbacks coach, and was one of their main recruiters at Coe for 1 year, then moved to Ottumwa, Iowa and spent 1 year as an assistant football coach. He was hired at Warren in 2015, and led the Warriors to their first playoff win in school history – a 26-20 win over Hope Academy in Chicago.

McNutt’s Warriors squads finished 2-7 and 1-8 in the past two seasons in the NUIC Upstate Division. They operated a balanced pack-it-in and spread-it-out offense, and McNutt looks to bring that same style to the Wildcatz.

“With our conference, we need to be able to pack it in and run with the best with them, and also be able to spread it out when we need to,” McNutt said. 

Eastland-Pearl City went 84-33 during Asche’s tenure, and won a 2A state championship in 2014. Last year’s team finished 5-5, losing to Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley 50-14 in the first round of the playoffs. 

McNutt becomes the fourth coach in the cooperative’s history, along with Asche, Bill Johnson (1997-2007) and Doug Johnson (1996). 

Eastland athletic director Scott Hartman was impressed with the way McNutt communicates with kids, and noted that he is patient and “willing to work.”

“He’s coming into a tough position,” Hartman said. “Randy left the program in great shape, and had a ton of success. I think for any coach, that would be tough to come into, but I think Jared’s willing to take that on, and ready to take that on.”

Eastland High School will host a meet-and-greet with McNutt from noon to 1:30 p.m. April 8 in the school cafeteria. McNutt will discuss the program’s expectations, and will take questions. Cookies and drinks will be provided.

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McNutt file

Position: Head coach, Eastland-Pearl City

Previous stops: Warren, head coach and athletic director, 2015-18; Ottumwa, Iowa High School, assistant coach, 2014; Coe College, wide receivers and quarterbacks coach, 2013

College: Coe (Class of 2013), 2012 team captain

High School: Warren (Class of 2009)

FYI: Played football, basketball and baseball at Warren. … Led Coe to 10-0 season in 2012. … Coached Warren to first playoff victory in school history in 2015.

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