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From Gladiator to Mustang

Wolf comes out of retirement to head up the football program at Milwaukie High School


by: JOHN DENNY - Milwaukie football coach Jon Wolf wasted little time in putting some of his football players to work rearranging the high school weight room for his movement dynamics program, which features both weight lifting and agility training. Pictured with the new Mustang head coach are (from left) Ivan Smith, River Meyer, Tui Tuitele and Patricio Hernandez. Wolf encourages any Milwaukie High School athlete, regardless of their sport, to take advantage of the movement dynamics program. Sessions run from 9 to 11 a.m. and from 4 to 6 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays through the summer.Jon Wolf’s retirement from coaching was very short-lived.

The longtime successful area high school football coach, who retired as head coach at Gladstone High School in December, has signed on as head football coach and part-time physical education teacher at Milwaukie High School.

Wolf, 55, this spring had said that he was still interested in coaching and teaching, but he had anticipated doing so in an assignment that required a lesser time commitment.

“I just want to be halftime,” Wolf had said during an interview in May. “Teaching full-time and coaching was like working two full-time jobs. I want to work another seven to 10 years. I just don’t want to kill myself doing it....”

Besides heading up the Mustang football program, Wolf will teach three weight training classes at Milwaukie. And he has brought the successful movement dynamics program that he helped start at Gladstone to Milwaukie, running sessions for all Milwaukie athletes from 9 to 11 a.m. and 4 to 6 p.m. on Mondays through Thursdays through the summer.

“I was thinking assistant coach, but only for certain people,” Wolf said in late June. “But I wasn’t ruling out head coaching. This opportunity came along, and it’s a great opportunity. I’m very excited about being here....

“This is basically everything I wanted. With teaching part-time, I get more time in the afternoon to work on football.”

Wolf has coached high school football for the past 32 seasons, including the last 17 as a head coach, and he has been one of the most successful high school football coaches in the local area. His varsity teams at Gladstone (2006-13), Putnam (1997-2002) and Madison (1989-91) high schools had a combined win-loss record of 95-77.

As head coach at Gladstone, Wolf’s teams won 61 of 91 games, won two league championships (2010 and 2013) and advanced at least as far as the state quarterfinals in five of his eight seasons as head coach (2006, 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2013). Wolf’s Gladiators in 2010 went 12-1 and took Gladstone to the state semifinals for the first time since 1987.

Still, the head coaching position at Milwaukie will be no cakewalk. The Mustang program has struggled for years, and Wolf is Milwaukie’s fifth head coach in five seasons.

“We had to work hard to change the culture at Gladstone, and we’re going to have to do the same thing here,” said Wolf. “When I met with the parents I told them that unless they fire me or I die, I’m going to be here seven to 10 more years. I want to be here. I’m excited about this opportunity, and I’m going to do everything in my power to turn things around.”

Wolf said he was impressed with the involvement of Milwaukie parents.

“We had probably the biggest parent meeting I’ve ever had,” Wolf said. “It’s a very good start.”

Wolf has been busy. Besides beginning a summer movement dynamics program for all Milwaukie High student/athletes, he’s become involved in Milwaukie’s youth football program.

“I’m a non-voting member of the [youth football] board of directors this year,” said Wolf. “They seem very interested in adopting [the program we use at the high school] and running with it....

“I’m working to get the youth program more connected with the high school. We’re going to get them playing games on the “M,” back on the Mustang field. We’re going to work closely with the youth program and build a relationship.”

Wolf said he plans to stick with the veer offense and stack defense that brought his teams success at Gladstone.

“I’ve got to be myself and do what I know,” said Wolf. “We’re going to hang our hat on running the veer.”

Wolf says he’s pretty much sticking with last year’s assistant coaches.

Roland Aumueller returns as a line coach, Stephen Graves returns to coach wide receivers and defensive backs, Shane Meyer returns to coach free safeties and running backs, Gary Irby returns to coach tight ends and linebackers, and Chris James returns to assist with the freshmen team.

Ian Fridell, who coached with Wolf at Gladstone, will head up Milwaukie’s jayvee program.

Milwaukie High School teacher and wrestling coach Brian Duhrkoop has joined the football coaching staff as head freshmen coach.

Richard Albes, a new social studies teacher at Milwaukie who comes from a Salem middle school, has also signed on as an assistant coach.

“I feel really lucky to be here,” said Wolf. “I know it’s been awhile. But there’s a great past tradition of success in football at Milwaukie, and we’re hoping to bring it back....

“Like we told the kids at Gladstone, “We’re going to train you as an athlete, we’re going to train you to be a sprinter, and we’re going to train you to be a team. It’s what made Gladstone special, and I think it can do the same thing here at Milwaukie.”

Wolf said he encourages participation and support from parents and the community as he attempts to turn Milwaukie’s program around.

“It takes more than one person to turn a program around,” he said. “It takes a supportive administration, and I feel I have that. It takes hard work by the players and coaching staff, and it also requires the support of parents and the community. I’m excited and ready to get after it!”



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