New Fenwick football coach brings modern approach

Highlights from Battaglia introductory meeting

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By James Kay

Sports Editor

Sporting a fresh black and white Fenwick long-sleeve shirt, Matt Battaglia was greeted by Friar nation on Nov. 11 before being publicly introduced as the program's next football head coach.

He shook hands with members of the community in the auditorium before Athletic Director Scott Thies gave a five-minute speech going over Battaglia's football career as a player and coach. Battaglia followed Thies with a 15-slide PowerPoint presentation. Here are the highlights from the night:

The team is going to play fast

Battaglia lit up talking about the new scheme he wants to implement into the offense. He declared "[Fenwick] is going to light up the scoreboard" with similar offensive concepts that he has learned at Kent State University, where he is an offensive line coach now.

At the end of the presentation, Battaglia gave everyone a taste of what the offense could look like by showing highlights from Kent State's offense. Titled "the sizzle reel," the footage showed a dynamic system that relied on efficiency and speed. 

This could benefit sophomore quarterback Kaden Cobb as he develops at the position as a junior next year. Cobb is at his best when he makes quick decisions within the pocket and sometimes struggles with turning the ball over when he is pressured and tries to extend plays.

Under Battaglia, Cobb could go from being a tantalizing dual-threat prospect to establishing himself as a future college quarterback who can run modern offenses.

Preparing players for the next level

Speaking of developing high school talent, Battaglia emphasized that one of his coaching strengths is preparing his players for the next level. He referenced his time as an offensive lineman at Northern Illinois University and the experience he gained as an assistant coach at Marist High School, St. Francis High School and Kent State for reasons why he knows how to navigate the recruitment process.

"I know all these little details that a lot of people take for granted," said Battaglia. "I want to pass on this knowledge I have to your sons so they can get to the next level."

Pettigrew's status unknown

After taking over as the interim head coach before the start of the 2019 playoffs, Titcus Pettigrew's status as the defensive coordinator is unknown.

According to Thies, Battaglia has called everyone in the program to see how they would fit in with his new system. Thies is going to let Battaglia pick his staff but spoke highly of Pettigrew as a teacher and coach (he is an assistant coach for the boys basketball team).

Pettigrew said after Fenwick's loss to Hillcrest in the second round of the IHSA 5A playoffs that he would "gladly accept" the head coaching position if he was offered it. He is well-respected by the players and handled the late season coaching change with grace. It will be interesting to see what happens with his status as Battaglia pieces together his coaching staff.

Battaglia's official start date

Battaglia has business to finish up at Kent State before he gets his hands dirty with Fenwick football. Kent State plays Utah State in the Frisco Bowl on Dec. 20. Battaglia will start working as Fenwick's assistant athletic director on Dec. 23.

He will also lead open workouts for anyone in the program on Dec. 30, Dec. 31 and Jan. 2. The times of these workouts have yet to be determined.

"I still have to figure out how to get in this building and get around half the time," Battaglia joked. "I have gotten lost so many times already."

 Friars moving forward after 2016 incident

There have been rumblings about whether Fenwick would conduct an investigation into the incident that forced former head coach Gene Nudo out of a job.

Thies isn't aware of an investigation if one is happening and Fenwick's president, the Rev. Richard Peddicord, could not be reached for comment. It appears that Fenwick is moving on from what took place in 2016.

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Reader Comments

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Bill Stenger  

Posted: December 27th, 2019 1:59 PM

Great guy with vision, talent, and experience. I wish him and the Friars the best.

Jolyn Crawford  

Posted: December 13th, 2019 8:05 PM

Hope the team, the new coach and AD can land on their feet in the season games to come.

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