Twinsburg graduate Jeremy Clarke named head wrestling coach at Tallmadge High School
When he first got acquainted with his new boss, Jeremy Clarke received this message.
“Good luck this season except for Week 3,” Clarke said.
In case you’re wondering, Clarke’s new boss is Tim Mosher, who happens to be the athletic director at Tallmadge High School.
So why would Mosher not be so enthused about his new employee during one particular week of the calendar year?
It just so happens that Mosher’s favorite football team is scheduled to butt heads with Clarke’s favorite football team during the third week of the upcoming season.
And which team might that be?
Clarke is an assistant coach at Coventry High School, which is set to visit Blue Devils Stadium Sept. 13.
“That’s going to be a great week,” Clarke said. “The kids are going to get after me and I’m going to get after them. It will be a big week for both schools.”
Once the Comets finish their season on the gridiron, Clarke will turn his allegiance toward the blue and gold.
The other blue and gold, that is.
Clarke has been named the head wrestling coach at Tallmadge High School after he was approved Wednesday by the district’s Board of Education.
Clarke will continue his duties as Coventry’s wide receivers/defensive backs coach. After the football season ends, though, Clarke’s focus will be strictly on the Blue Devils.
For at least a few months, at least.
“I’m really excited to get started and be a part of the Tallmadge community,” Clarke said. “I’m excited to be a Tallmadge Blue Devil.”
Clarke, 26, graduated from Twinsburg High School in 2012. He was a four-year member of the Tigers’ wrestling squad and also lined up as a wide receiver and cornerback for Twinsburg’s football team. Clarke is a former pupil of Dave Mariola Sr., who has been the Tigers head wrestling coach for the last 35 years.
By the way, Clarke’s cousin is 2010 Twinsburg graduate Waquiem Comar, a three-time All-Ohioan who was the Division I state champion at 152 pounds during his senior year.
“I believe Twinsburg finished in the top 10 in the state every year except my senior year,” Clarke said. “I’ve had great coaching all my life. We treated everyone the same.
“Coach Mariola is someone I always leaned on. I want my team to be idolized the same way his team is. I wouldn’t be in this position if not for his guidance and leadership. Who wouldn’t want to look up to a Hall of Fame coach?”
Despite his young age, Clarke has been around the block when it comes to coaching. He spent five years as an assistant coach with the Notre Dame Cathedral Latin wrestling team in Chardon.
Prior to joining Coventry’s staff, Clarke was an assistant coach for the Walsh Jesuit football team in 2018. He also was an assistant coach for the Cuyahoga Falls football team the previous year.
Clarke has remained in the Falls to perform his day-job duties. He is a teacher’s aide for special education at Roberts Middle School.
“We’re very excited to have him,” Mosher said. “He checks all of our boxes. He’s a very enthusiastic, energetic and passionate young man. We were looking for someone who can plant some solid roots to grow the program.
“We have good youth and middle school programs. We believe Jeremy can be the final piece of the program in terms of building the program with solid consistency from top to bottom.”
The Blue Devils finished 1-4 in dual matches during the winter. Tallmadge, which captured a Division II sectional championship in 2017, has seen a number of wrestlers advance to the state tournament over the years.
This list includes 2020 graduate Jesse Kanatzar, who reached Columbus in the 182-pound weight division during his senior year.
“Our motto is going to be ‘better together,’” Clarke said. “We can’t be great unless all aspects of the program are great.”
Since the Suburban League expanded to a 15-team, two-conference format in 2015, the smaller-school American Conference has been a battle for second.
Aurora has dominated the American Conference ever since it moved to the Suburban League five years ago.
“I have the utmost respect for [head] Coach [John] Papesh,” Clarke said. “Aurora has a very strong program. When I was at Twinsburg, we used to face them at the Cable 9 tri-meet. Aurora is really good when it comes to locking in when it’s time for sectionals.
“We have a bunch of young guys. My goal is to get them as many matches as possible by February. We don’t want to still be trying to figure things out when it comes to postseason time. I don’t want to be like Aurora. I want to be better than Aurora.”
Mosher said he would like to see Clarke eventually become a teacher in the school district. Clarke, a University of Toledo graduate who is currently working on his online teaching degree at Southern New Hampshire University, is open to the possibility.
“I sincerely love what I do,” Clarke said. “I love working with kids. I don’t do it for the money.”
Clarke said his goal is to get all of the youth, middle school and high school wrestlers on the same page.
“If you come in and do the work, everything will fall into place,” he said. “I want to be visible at the youth matches. I want kids to say, ‘I can’t wait to go to high school.’ I want to make it more fun and enjoyable.
“I want the middle school wrestlers to be at our matches and I want our high school wrestlers to go to the middle school matches because they’re our future. We want to work together as one program.”
Mosher said the team is planning a “meet the coach” night sometime in August. Clarke will certainly be looking forward to that evening.
Of course, forgive the super-busy Clarke if he can’t stick around for a few days. That’s because he’ll have to return to Akron to perform his gridiron duties.
And what will one of those duties be? Shutting down a certain opponent with similar colors a few weeks down the road.
“I’m going to be rooting for the kids even if I’m not in the stadium,” Clarke said. “I’m really grateful to be a part of both communities.
“I told the AD, I’ll stay until you don’t want me anymore. At NDCL, they gave me a shot and I wanted to return the favor. It’s my turn to give back.”
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, email@example.com or @Faceto_Gannett.