Gordon hired as Frontier football coach

Who better to take over a young Frontier Regional School football team than the man who guided the players as middle-schoolers?

After 29 years as head coach of the Frontier Middle School program, Don Gordon has been named head coach of the Frontier varsity football team.

The move comes on the heels of former coach Scott Dredge’s May resignation after being named the school’s assistant principal. The time commitment of an assistant principal made it impossible for him to continue coaching, which opened the door for Gordon, no stranger to Frontier varsity athletics. Gordon started the wrestling program at Frontier in 1974 and served as head coach until this past winter, when he remained on as what he called a “mentor.” Gordon has won more than 300 matches as a head coach and was named to the Massachusetts Interscholastic Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2010.

While he is most famous at the South Deerfield school for his work coaching on the mats during the winter months, Gordon has also been the head coach of the Frontier Middle School football team since the fall of 1983 , so has plenty of experience around the gridiron.

Gordon graduated from Kearny (N.J.) High School in 1966, where he played on the offensive line for the school’s football team. Gordon graduated from Springfield College in 1970 with a degree in mathematics and began teaching at Longmeadow High School, where he served as coach of the freshman team. The New Jersey native moved on to teach in the Springfield public schools, then served as a volunteer coach at High School of Commerce for one season before moving to a Putnam Vocational High School assistant coach for two seasons. He landed a teaching job at Frontier in 1974 and two years later, after he had already started the wrestling program, he became an assistant coach on the varsity football team at the school. He remained an assistant until 1981, but moved on to Keene High School, where he served as an assistant coach on the school’s football team for two seasons before coming back to Frontier. He took over as the head coach of the middle school team that fall and has been there ever since. He said that with his teaching job and former wrestling coaching gig, he never really had aspirations of coaching football at the varsity level. But now, having retired from both teaching and wrestling coach, he decided to go for it.

“I’ve got the time now,” Gordon said. “I was never really serious about it over the years because my No. 1 job was a math teacher and that took a lot of my time. But this is a good bunch of kids I’ve already coached, so that was the deciding factor.”

Gordon takes over a Frontier program that has seen tough times in the past three seasons after going to the WMass Division III Super Bowl in 2009, losing to Mahar Regional School. The Red Hawks are 12-18 overall over the past three years, including a pair of 3-7 records in 2010 and 2012. The program has seen numbers drop off in recent seasons, and this year the school is expected to have a young team. That makes Gordon’s coaching philosophy that much more important.

“I liked what (Doug) McCloud said (in Tuesday’s paper) that the No. 1 thing is to keep kids safe,” he explained. “When I interviewed for the job, I talked a lot about teaching the kids proper techniques. And my philosophy in middle school was not to over-coach, just let the players use their talent.”

That philosophy has worked great over the past three seasons as the middle school squad went 18-3 with many of the players now making their way to the varsity level.”

“It doesn’t guarantee success but is a good place to start,” Gordon said of the recent middle school success. “The kids I have love the game. They want to play, and they understand what I want to do, which is move the chains, play sound defense — which has been a staple at the school for a long time — and to not beat yourself, especially on special teams.”

Gordon’s coaching staff includes one holdover in Chris Thorpe, and he will bring Brian Delaney along with him from the middle school team to serve as the other assistant.

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