Fangio Showed Knack For Coaching With The Dunmore Bucks
Vic Fangio’s passion for football and attention to detail was forged as a young buck in Dunmore.
On the day he was introduced as the Denver Broncos new leader, the 60-year-old, first-time head coach acknowledged his roots.
“I want to thank Jack Henzes, my high school coach, for his passion and excellence in football and in coaching. It is what motivated me ... I caught his passion for the game and I decided from that point on that I wanted to be a football coach,” Fangio said during his introductory press conference Thursday in Denver.
His mentor, former teammates and close friends boasted of Fangio’s climb through the coaching ranks and reflected on stories of their hometown hero’s early days in Dunmore.
“When he coached with me, he came to me and said, he wanted to be a college coach,” Henzes said. “I could just see he had coaching in his future. We played a game against Lakeland back then and they had these big guys and athletes, (Steve) Domonoski, the (Chris) Clauss kid and they beat us 6-0 and he defended them and all their weapons so well.
“He has bided his time and he’s worked under a lot of different people, really good coaches, and taken in a lot and learned a lot. But, more than anything, he’s just a great individual and we are so proud of him in Dunmore.”
During his playing years at Dunmore, Fangio starred in football, basketball and baseball. A sports enthusiast, he often spent his summers umpiring Little League games.
Fangio played defensive back and wide receiver as Dunmore established itself as a Big 11 Conference power, winning titles in 1973, 1974 and 1975.
Described as a tenacious hitter, his attention to detail and commitment to film study stood.
“He was always dedicated,” friend and teammate Mike Sandone said. “He was an excellent player. He always had that knack of being in the right place at the right time.
“I always knew he would do something that included coaching some day.”
After graduating from East Stroudsburg University, Fangio returned home. He joined coach Henzes’ staff and coordinated the defense from 1979 to 1981.
In an era of ground-and-pound offenses, Fangio brought innovative schemes to the conference. He devised ways to shift the alignment of his linemen just enough to create blocking issues and he became creative in ways to pressure the quarterback.
“We worked on different fronts when coaches weren’t doing that,” former Dunmore standout Jack Miles said. “He was always trying ways to put his kids in the best position to succeed.”
Miles recalls one time that Fangio called for a blitz on a key play during a game that resulted in Miles getting the sack.
“As I came off the field celebrating, coach said, ‘Aren’t you going to thank me?’ And I said for what? And he said with a smile, ‘for calling that blitz,’ ” Miles said. “He was just a good guy, very relatable to the players.
“His work ethic was always second to none. His goals were to always make the team better. The great part about him was he never blamed a kid. He pushed us to be the best.”
Fangio’s coaching career took off after a stay at Milford Academy and the University of North Carolina.
Joe Marciano, also a Dunmore native, was an assistant coach with the USFL’s Philadelphia Stars under Jim Mora. Marciano reached out to Fangio about an opportunity on the staff.
It turned into Fangio’s introduction to coaching professional football.
The Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars won a couple of USFL titles before Mora and most of his staff, including Fangio, moved to the NFL with the New Orleans Saints.
“I want to thank Joe Marciano, a fellow coach, who looked out for me before I was in pro football and was helping me along the way in my journey and introduced me to Jim Mora,” Fangio said at his press conference. “Without that relationship I had with Joe and the introduction to Jim Mora, maybe I wouldn’t be here today.”
Fangio’s NFL coaching career has taken him from New Orleans to Carolina to Indianapolis to Houston to Baltimore to San Francisco to Chicago and now, to Denver.
All the while he kept Dunmore close to his heart.
“He’s a true Dunmorean,” said Sandone, who attended the Bears playoff game against the Philadelphia Eagles last weekend. “He never forgot his roots. He visits his mom, Alice, and she is still doing well. When he gets a chance, he pops in.
“We are so happy for him. We all are filled with pride. Everybody is so proud of him. I am so happy after all these years, he gets his chance.”
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