SWANTON — After a one-year return to working as an administrator and head coach at Delta, highly successful high school football coach Mike Vicars will be leaving the Panthers again, but he will remain in the Northwest Ohio Athletic League.
Vicars has been approved by the Swanton school board to take positions in the system as director of student services and as the Bulldogs’ head football coach.
“We are happy to announce that the board of education voted 5-0 to approve Mike Vicars as the next football coach here at Swanton,” said Bulldogs athletic director Wade Haselman. “We are excited to see the direction coach Vicars will lead our football program.”
The Bulldogs were 4-26 (3-21 NWOAL) the last three seasons under prior coach Phil Witker, who resigned on Jan. 23. Witker remains a teacher at Swanton.
Since 2002, the Bulldogs have gone 17-103 overall and an NWOAL-worst 7-89 in league play. Their lone playoff appearance came in 1995, when Haselman was a running back and defensive back.
In Vicars’ first stint at Delta (1999-2006), he guided what had been a struggling program to a 62-29 record in eight seasons with three NWOAL titles and six playoff appearances, including a Division IV state-semifinal run in 2003.
In his return last season, Delta was 5-5 after finishing 2-8 in each of the two prior years. Vicars had briefly accepted the head coaching job at Clay before the 2013 season, but he later declined that position.
“Delta has been fantastic to me this year,” Vicars said, “However, the [middle school] principal position and the challenge of managing four grades has been very tough.
“I’m very disappointed in myself, not Delta. Swanton gave me an opportunity to go in a different direction.”
During his 24 seasons as coach (159-106 record), Vicars earned a reputation for his ability to turn struggling programs into winners.
In his five seasons at Genoa (2007-2011), Vicars’ teams posted a 56-7 record, won four Suburban Lakes League titles, and reached the state playoffs all five years.
The Comets reeled off 48 straight regular-season wins during that stretch, and the 2008 team reached the D-IV state semifinals. Genoa was 9-31 in the four seasons prior to Vicars’ arrival.
A Liberty Center graduate, Vicars also was the head coach at Holgate, Ada, and Hilltop. Swanton may be his biggest challenge to date.
“Delta will be a strong team next year,” Vicars said, “potentially 10-0. Swanton is giving me an opportunity to make a transition to something new and of interest. For that I am grateful.
“In return I’m going to do my best at improving what has been a struggling football program. I want this to be successful for us both.”