Jim Ludwig is a name with which many local football fans are famiiar. A 1995 graduate of HHS, Ludwig went on to play four years at Mansfield University. He returned to the Maple City in 2001 as an assistant...and, on Tuesday night the school board named him to replace John Marichak as the Hornets' new head coach.
After months of speculation, the search is finally over: Jim Ludwig will be the next varsity football coach at Honesdale High School.
The hire was made official Tuesday night at the monthly meeting of the Wayne Highlands School District board.
“Personally, I’m thrilled with this move,” Superintendent Tom Jenkins told TWI Sports. “I’ve known Jim for a long time and I think he’ll be a great fit for the program. He’s a former Honesdale player who brings alot of energy and enthusiasm to the table.”
Greg Frigoletto, the high school principal and point man in this latest search for a new coach, agrees.
“I think this is a great move,” he said. “Jim Ludwig really impressed me with his enthusiasm and his whole philosophy. He’s focused on hard work and getting kids excited about Honesdale football again.”
Coach Ludwig inherits a program that is currently at its all-time nadir. The Hornets have endured five straight losing seasons under Gene Biscontini and John Marichak.
The Red & Black suffered their first-ever 0-10 campaign last fall with Marichak in charge.
“I’m very excited to be given this chance,” Jim said. “I’m very devoted to this program and we’re going to work hard to get things turned around.”
Jim Ludwig is a product of the Honesdale football program.
He is a 1995 graduate who started on both sides of the ball, playing linebacker and fullback.
Jim also starred collegiately for Mansfield University, where he was one of the team’s most prolific tacklers.
Coach Ludwig has been an assistant at Honesdale since ‘01. He brings a perfect mixture of youth and experience to the sideline.
“We’re going to focus on the fundamentals,” Jim said. “We have to get back to the basics if we want to succeed in this league.”
Honesdale is dropping to Division II this fall, but that certainly doesn’t mean an easier schedule.
The Hornets will open the LFC regular season at home against Wallenpau-pack Area. This annual rivalry game is set for a 7:00 p.m. kick-off on Friday September 3rd.
Traditional foes Western Wayne (Oct. 29) and Carbondale Area (Nov. 5) are back on the schedule.
However, several less familiar opponents like Pleasant Valley (Sept. 10) and Old Forge (Sept 24th) are also on the slate.
Jim Ludwig has assembled an outstanding staff of assistants, many of whom have been associated with Hornet football for a very long time.
At the top of that list is longtime defensive coordinator Bob Markwith. A standout in high school, college and with the National Champion Scranton Eagles, Markwith will once again call the defenses for Honesdale.
“We’re probably going to focus more on a 5-2 this year,” said Coach Ludwig.
“I think it’s a little bit simpler and easier for the kids. We’re going to be aggressive and focus on better tackling.”
Darren Diehl and Mike Motsko also return as varsity assistants. Both are former Hornet players and each boasts a wealth of football experience.
One pleasant surprise is the addition of Jim Rodda. Coach Rodda was part of the staff that led Honesdale to multiple Suburban and Eastern Conference titles in the 1980s.
Gordy West will be back to lead the junior high team, while Steve Langendoerfer, Dan Patrisso and Joe LoBasso round out this roster of assistants.
Volunteers include Victor Rivero, Jeremy Ebert, Matt Williams, Mark Steel-man, Davis Evans and Kevin Bose.
“I think we’ve assembled an excellent staff,” Tom Jenkins said. “It’s a very good mix of youth and experience.”
One of Honesdale’s biggest problems over the past few years has been a lack of participation.
The varsity squad began the ‘09 campaign under Marichak with less than 40 players on the roster. By the end of an admittedly dismal season, that number had dwindled to a paltry 26.
“That has to change,” Coach Ludwig said simply. “One of my first priorities will be to get some of our athletes out of the hallways and back onto the field.”
At the moment, Honesdale has just 18 players slated to return from last year’s team. Jim Ludwig hopes that a brand new regime generates some excitement and attracts kids to the weight room and gridiron.
“We do have some positive things to build on,” he said. “I know it’s probably going to take some time, but I’m committed to turning this around.”
Jim Ludwig and his wife Tracy are the proud parents of three children. They live in Honesdale. Tracy is also head coach of the varsity girls basketball team.