February 09, 2008
Todd Appel named new Fort Hill football coach
Former player, veteran assistant succeeds Lattimer
— Todd Appel had the endorsement of his predecessor
a month ago. On Friday, he received the green light from his
boss, as Appel, an inclusion math teacher and assistant football
coach at Fort Hill High School for the past 15 years, became
the 10th head football coach in Fort Hill history, succeeding
Hill Principal Steve Lewis said, “Todd Appel is now
the football coach at Fort Hill High School, and he is currently
in the process of assembling a great coaching staff.
hard to replace a coach like Barry Lattimer, but Todd learned
under two great coaches and he’ll step up and do a great
has been a member of the Fort Hill football coaching staff
since the 1993 season, serving in various capacities under
former head coaches Mike Calhoun and Lattimer. He has been
the Sentinels’ defensive coordinator, also coaching
the offensive line and linebackers.
a former Fort Hill player,” said Lewis, “and the
great thing about it is he’s a line coach,” said
Lewis, a former lineman and line coach himself. “In
my opinion, he knows what it takes to win: a good offensive
line, a good ground game, a good passing game and, of course,
a great defense.
been the defensive coordinator the last few years. He has
a well-rounded knowledge of Fort Hill football and of the
Fort Hill tradition.”
a dream come true,” Appel said Friday afternoon in his
new office. “It’s very humbling ... I’m
very humbled. But I’m also ready to get to work.”
resigned Jan. 10 after nine years as the Fort Hill head coach
and strongly endorsed Appel to be his successor, saying, “If
anybody is unafraid of hard work, if there is anybody who
has paid his dues, it’s Todd Appel. What Mike Calhoun
said about me when he left, I’ll say about Todd: Todd
Appel is the backbone of the program. He gets kids ready with
the off-season weight program. He’s in charge of it.
And he gets them ready to play.”
meant a lot to me to read Barry saying those things,”
Appel said of the Lattimer endorsement. “For somebody
who has the respect that Barry has earned to say something
good about me is very meaningful. And, I guess, maybe it was
at that point I thought, ‘This is like a dream. It could
1987 graduate of Fort Hill, Appel played for coaches Dick
Bittner and Calhoun, being named Times-News All-Area offensive
guard and linebacker for the 1985 and 1986 seasons. He attended
Fairmont State for one year, before graduating from Frostburg
played for Calhoun, then having become a member of his former
coach’s staff, the ambition for “it” to
happen was soon planted in Appel’s heart.
wanted (to be the Fort Hill head coach) when I saw what Mike
did here,” Appel said. “It encouraged me to love
Fort Hill even more, but that’s not the same time I
thought I could do the job. I would say that was three years
ago when Barry put me in charge of the weight room.
thought then I could do it, but like Barry says — and
God bless Barry, he did such a great job — it’s
completely different sitting in this chair. So I’m going
to do everything I can do to keep this tradition alive. I’m
going to work my tail off and do what’s best for Fort
believes from Calhoun and Lattimer, he has received the best
possible training for following in their footsteps.
Calhoun is so organized, it’s scary at times. In fact,”
Appel said, beginning to chuckle, “it’s out of
this world scary. He has tremendous organization, and what
you see all around here today is what Mike painted, posted
and wrote. He is extremely organized and highly motivated.
I wouldn’t be sitting here talking to you today if not
for Mike Calhoun.
for Barry, he is an extremely loyal Fort Hill person with
the best interest of the kids in his heart. We have eight
kids playing college football and that is attributed to Barry
Lattimer, his discipline, his no-nonsense approach, and his
deep loyalty to this school and its students.”
coach Appel addressed the Fort Hill football team for the
first time Friday morning ... sort of.
told them I was the new head coach,” he said, “but
we had to get back into the weight room, so I’ll talk
to them Monday and they’ll know my expectations. They
already do, though.”
of his coaches at Fort Hill was Principal Lewis, who hired
Appel to teach and coach at the school in 1993.
remember as a player, he was an offensive guard,” Lewis
said. “He was a leader then and has been a leader ever
since. That’s why I hired him then. It’s why I’m
hiring him now.
expect nothing but the best from Todd. Todd will give 100
percent to Fort Hill.”
is well aware of Lewis’ past hiring practices as well
as his expectations.
thank Steve Lewis for giving me every opportunity I’ve
ever had in teaching and in coaching,” he said. “I
will always be grateful for that.”
too, is Appel for the support he receives from his family.
thank my wife Suzanne for sticking with me all these years
and supporting me,” he said. “She understands
what this means to me. So does my mother Dottie, who raised
me from age 10; and my father Paul, who instilled in me what
it means to have the Fort Hill spirit.”
as though they haven’t already, the Fort Hill football
players will be getting a better picture of beginning Monday.
want to be good people first,” Appel said, “and
good football players second. We want to be aggressive football
players and we’re going to be willing to put ourselves
out on the line for Fort Hill High School.
will be up to the coaches and me to instill the tradition
into our players so they can return it someday the way Barry
has, and how I’m going to try to do.”