Stiles ready for challenge at UL

MORRISTOWN – There will be a new pilot in the cockpit when the Union Local Jets take off in the 2013 high school football season.

Bruce Stiles, a UL alumni Class of 1981, was hired during Thursday night’s board of education meeting. He replaces Mark Cisar who stepped aside following his seventh season last fall.

“I’m really excited about this position,” Stiles said Friday morning after letting the decision set in overnight. “I think it will be a challenge, but I also feel that I will be up for the challenge. I can’t wait to get with the kids and get things started. We’re going to get the off-season training program under way.”

Stiles plans to meet with the team early next week, and he also plans on having a parent’s meeting, as well.

“I’m going to meet with the kids first and present myself to them,” he said. “I want to try and get more enthusiasm involved in the program, and some more kids out for the team.

“But, first of all I want to meet with the kids and tell them of my expectations. Let them know right up front what I, as their head coach, will require of them.

“Then I want to meet with the parents so I can let them know what my expectations for the program are,” he continued. “This way everyone will know what is expected of their child.”

This won’t be Stiles first go-around in the head coaching ranks as he led the St. Clairsville girls’ basketball team for two seasons after Mickey Blatnik retired.

“That experience will definitely help me,” he noted. “I’ll know what to expect. I’ll know some of the duties that a head coach has to perform. I have a pretty good idea of what I have to do. I just need to get myself organized.

“I think I’m prepared. I’ve been around this for a long time and I’ve seen what it takes to accomplish your goals.”

The Lady Red Devils went 21-19 in Stiles 2-year stint, but he was a superb 16-4 in his initial season when he guided the team to the OVAC Class 3-A championship game.

Stiles, who served as St. Clairsville’s defensive coordinator under Brett McLean for the past nine years, will not change his coaching philosophy.

“Throughout my career I’ve developed my own philosophy. It’s going to be the same if I’m an assistant coach or a head coach. We’re going to do what best suits the kids,” he added. “If we have to develop a running game, then so be it. But, if we have to develop a passing game, we’ll do that, as well.”

But he will change his coaching duties.

“I will be the head coach,” he declared. “I will go out and find an offensive coordinator and a defensive coordinator, but I will have a big say in both. I want to find good coaches and allow them to do what they do best.

“I’ll oversee the entire program, but I’ll be more involved in the offensive side because that is where the biggest need is. That is where most of the attention is at, and that’s the bottom line.”

While he is still assembling a staff, he knows what to look for in assistants as he trained under legendary head coaches Bill Dowler (Barnesville), Mike Young (St. Clairsville) and McLean.

“It’s kind of been overwhelming so far,” he allowed. “Just this morning I’ve had four calls from college graduates that want to come back and help me coach.

“I’ve got a few people in mind, but there is nothing definite,” he added. “I am still looking for quality assistant coaches.”

The hardest part in taking the Union Local job was leaving St. Clairsville, where he will continue to teach high school science.

“It’s kind of bittersweet,” he said of the move. “I’ve loved my time there at St. Clairsville. I spent 24 years there coaching different sports and things like that. I’m going to miss it a lot, and I’m going to miss the kids even more.

“This is a new challenge over here for me,” he added. “St. Clairsville has a great program and Coach McLean has done a tremendous job there. All they are going to do is re-load. They’ve got a wealth of talent coming back.”

Following graduation from Union Local, Stiles matriculated to Salem College where he was a 3-year letterman and all-WVIAC performer as a defensive back.

“I was fortunate enough to be at Salem when Terry Bowden came there as head coach and the program really turned around under him,” Stiles continued. “I’ve seen how to turn a program around from the bottom to the top.”

Because of his connections from his Salem days, Stiles said he still keeps in touch with Florida State University head coach Jimbo Fisher, a Clarksburg, W.Va., native and former Tiger quarterback, and Bowden, who is the head coach at Akron.

“I feel I can call them at any time,” he said. “They’ve always been very helpful in the past, so I’m going to take advantage of all of my resources.”

As far as the homefront, Stiles said he has plenty of support there.

“My wife (Leslie) is a real supporter. She’s the typical coach’s wife,” he noted. “She pretty much lives on her own for three months there, but she understands because I’ve been coaching ever since I came out of college.

“She knows what I’m going to expect out of my team, and she realizes the commitment that it takes, even more know as a head coach.”

The couple are the proud parents of two siblings, Zac and Carlee, who is currently a senior on the girls’ basketball team.

North can be reached at