Triplett to replace Lutz as head football coach

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 29, 2006

With the start of football season

six weeks away, Ironton City Schools Board of Education took steps Thursday to ensure the city’s beloved tradition would continue.

After a nearly three-hour executive session, the board agreed to hire volunteer assistant football coach Merril Triplett Jr. as head football coach.

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As part of a sports department shuffle, Athletic Director Terry Parker will become a physical education teacher while Mark Vass, who was hired as a P.E. teacher last week, will become athletic director in Parker’s place.

Contacted after the meeting, Triplett said he was pleased with the opportunity to become the head coach of the Fighting Tigers.

Late last week he had said he would withdraw his name from consideration but said a group of students who are taking weight training with him this summer asked him to reconsider.

“The kids came to me and asked me to do it,” he said.

“They said ‘we want you to be our football coach.’ I couldn’t believe it. That was probably the biggest compliment of my life. That’s what I’m there for anyway. So I went to the superintendent and told him I wanted to be in this. It was a fantastic compliment.”

Board President Kathy Kratzenberg said Parker’s switch from athletic director to teacher, which was voluntary, would hopefully bring “peace” to a chaotic situation.

“This will hopefully allow us to get our lives back,” she said. “This will help us get back on track, hopefully. I feel good about it. I want to see everything put back together and everyone come out and support Mr. Triplett and Mr. Vass. I think they’re going to work well together and I hope everyone supports them and supports this, for the coaching staff, the fans and the students. I really want that.”

Kratzenberg said the board had talked to outgoing coach Bob Lutz but that no agreement had been made for him to return.

Superintendent Dean Nance said Lutz will be “very missed” and he wished him all the best in the future. But Nance conceded that, with the start of football season looming, it was time to put a difficult situation in the past and look ahead to the future. Changes made were aimed at doing just that.

“This was an agreement of a group of people who came together for the betterment of the school, the kids and the athletic department,” he said. “I’m happy.”

Vass had at one time been discussed as a possible replacement for Lutz. Nance said Vass is a fine man who would have also made a fine coach.

“This is a great opportunity. I’m looking forward to working together with everyone to continue the success of all our athletic programs,” Vass said.

Phone calls were placed to the Parker residence. His wife, Teresa Parker, said he had no comment on the situation. Neither Vass nor Lutz were available for comment either.

The outcry over the head football coach’s position began more than a month ago when veteran coach Lutz said he would not continue as head of Tiger football, opting for retirement. He was one of several coaches who have indicated they would not return for another season, citing various reasons.

Typically quiet school board meetings began drawing crowds of sports fans who wanted to know why coaches were leaving and if there were problems in the athletic department.