Football runs in Greg Latimer's family.
More specifically, Warren football runs in Greg Latimer's family, and he'll continue to pass it on as the new Warren Area High School head football coach.
Latimer was approved as head coach on Monday by the Warren County School District board of directors, less than two weeks after five-year head coach Brad Wright resigned. Wright is relocating to Blairsville, Pa, due to his wife's job change.
Times Observer file photo
Greg Latimer, right, demonstrates blocking to a Warren County Youth Football League player in a recent season. Latimer, a Warren County Sports Hall of Famer and Mercyhurst Athletic Hall of Famer, has been named Warren Area High School head football coach, after being an assistant for recently-resigned Brad Wright.
"It's been a whirlwind," said Latimer, following his approval on Monday. "A very quick two weeks, but we are very excited about leading the 2013 Dragons football team this year."
Wright had recommended the district hire from within, and that's exactly what is happening; Latimer has been an assistant coach under Wright.
"Right now, we have pretty much our complete staff, excluding coach Wright, back running the program this year," said Latimer. "The support that we've given each other the past few years gave me the confidence to apply for the position of head coach. Not only that, but my family is behind me 100 percent."
Latimer was an assistant coach while his son, T.J., played for the Dragons. T.J. is currently a linebacker at Mercyhurst University, following in the footsteps of his father.
In 2010, Greg Latimer was inducted into the Mercyhurst Athletics Hall of Fame, leaving an indelible impact on the then-Division III (now-Division II) Lakers football program. He was a two-time All-American linebacker from 1985 to 1988 in the early days of the Erie college football program. The team was 34-14 during his five seasons on campus, and he made 24 tackles in a game versus Salisbury State on Nov. 14, 1987 - a school mark that has stood for 26 years.
Greg's brother, Tim, played at Mercyhurst from 1981 to 1984 and both are in the Mercyhurst Football Hall of Fame.
Latimer played linebacker as a sophomore at Warren Area High School, under head coach Toby Shea, starting the last half of the season. During his junior season, he was switched to an offensive guard and defensive tackle, earning First-Team All-Northwest Conference honors as a defensive lineman, and second-team accolades on the offensive line. He was also awarded the Warren Dragon Lineman of the Year award as a junior.
His senior year, he was a First-Team All-Northwest Conference all-star on the offensive and defensive lines, Warren Dragon Lineman of the Year, an honorable mention all-state lineman and was selected to play in the Big 33 Football Classic all-star game as a lineman.
Both Shea (1993) and Latimer (2000) have been inducted into the Warren County Sports Hall of Fame.
"Coach Shea and his staff not only prepared you for battle on the field of play, they prepared you for college and life experiences," Latimer said in 2010. "They were all great men and were very instrumental in my life."
Greg has had many special moments created from the sport of football, and now he can add another.
"In life, you come across those things that you can see that you want to reach out and grab," he said. "This is one of those."
Latimer, who resides in Warren with his wife DeDe, has a son, T.J., and two daughters, Valerie and Lydia. He said telling each member of his family was special, all the way to getting a thumbs up from his youngest daughter, Lydia.
"To me this is very special," said his son, T.J. "I'm excited for him because I know how much he loves the sport of football. I feel that he'll do a tremendous job because not only have I watched him first-hand be a coach, but he was also my coach. One thing I will say is that I'm very proud of him for doing this. I know how much of a busy man he is not only with work and everything else he does, but it is also a busy time of year due to the sign-ups and getting everything ready for the youth league. When he was the defensive coordinator, I know that he spent a large amount of time reviewing film and getting a game plan ready for the next week's opponent. To come in and take a head coaching job with just weeks before a season starts, rarely someone would be willing to do that due to the size of the workload they would have. I know how much the kids mean to him. The majority of these kids he has seen come up through the ranks of the youth league."
Warren finished 9-3 last year and won its first District 10 Class AAA playoff game since 2002 with 16 seniors listed on the opening-day roster, including Austin Jerman, who became the program's all-time leading passer at quarterback.
Latimer has been active with the Warren Area High School football program since 2008, "and I thought about applying for the position when coach (Brandon) Falk resigned," said Latimer. "Football runs through my blood. That special feeling about football was taught from my father and all the great coaches I've had from junior high and all the way up through college football."
Having a great coach makes all the difference, he said.
Latimer was a co-founder of the Warren County Youth Football League for third-through-sixth-graders, "and the love of the game is why we started the league," he has said, "with the hope that our football league would improve the success of our high school football programs" - which he is now a first-time head coach of some of the same young men that played in the WCYFL.
"We're not going to miss a beat," said Latimer of fall conditioning and practices. "Coach Wright did a very good job - he coached the last 7-on-7 (scrimmage) here at Warren, and coaches (Greg) Miller, (Larry) Himes, (Ken) Hinton and (Henry) Borger all have stepped up and helped in the weight room ... in coach Wright's absence."
Conditioning practices will begin next week.