Football: Frank Edgerly hired as Howell’s head coach
When Frank Edgerly resigned in February from the only high school football head coaching position he’s ever held, it seemed like his tenure coaching high school football was over. If he wasn’t going to be at Red Bank Catholic, a perennial power where Edgerly himself once played quarterback, then where?
As it turns out, his time on the bench would last just a few months.
As first reported by Shore Sports Network on Friday night, Edgerly was expected to be hired as the head coach at Howell and that hiring became official on Monday night when the Freehold Regional High School District Board of Education approved him to lead the Rebels’ football program this fall.
“Coaching was always going to be in my future. Not being involved in football was not an option,” Edgerly said.
That didn’t necessarily have to be at the high school level, however. Edgerly has coached at the collegiate level with Rutgers and Vanderbilt and in the National Football League with the New England Patriots and Cleveland Browns.
“I was always going to be coaching, but I wasn’t going to limit myself to any one level or opportunity,” Edgerly said.
So, why Howell?
“Why Not? I grew up in Wall right next to Howell so there is a familiarity with the community,” Edgerly said. “You look at the size of the school, the level of strength in the youth programs and the investments the school has made in all the athletic programs.”
Edgerly still works at Red Bank Catholic High School where he is the Dean of Discipline. He declined to comment on the reasons for his resignation there.
“I’m not going to get into,” Edgerly said. “I’m focused on Howell football 100 percent right now.”
Edgerly's success is well-known around the Shore Conference, so when Howell principal Jeremy Braverman saw the resume on his desk he was immediately intrigued.
"I was definitely excited he was going to be one of our candidates," Braverman said. "We had some other really good ones, as well, but when we saw his name come across the plate we were excited to meet him and see if he was in on what we want to do here. Myself and (athletic director) Pete Meehan had some great conversations with him."
"It's all about relationships and fit and obviously I was excited when I saw his resume, but until I met him that was trivial. We hired him because he is a great fit for our program. His knowledge, his professionalism, his honesty, his personality; we really kicked it off and enjoyed what he had to say and what his philosophies are."
Edgerly succeeds Luke Sinkhorn, who resigned in March after six seasons.
"I have the utmost respect for Luke Sinkhorn," Braverman said. "He was a class act and we were sad for him to leave. He ran a great program."
Edgerly will try to bring Howell back to championship form. Since reaching consecutive NJSIAA South Jersey Group 5 sectional finals, including a 9-2 season in 2017, Howell has struggled to a 2-18 record over the past two seasons. The Rebels’ last division title came in 2009 when they won the American Division under longtime head coach Cory Davies, who is now the head coach at rival Freehold Township. Howell’s only state sectional championship came in 2007 when the team went 11-1, also with Davies at the helm.
Howell is set to graduate nearly all of its top players from last season, especially on the offensive side with quarterback Jason Caston, running back Vaughn Meehan and wide receiver Sean Murphy matriculating out of the program. Linebacker Nick Cerulli will lead the group of returners after recording 60 tackles, 2 sacks and 8 tackles for loss – all team highs – last season.
Howell will compete in the Shore Conference’s Freedom Division in 2020 with Brick Memorial, Freehold Township, Marlboro, Middletown North and St. John Vianney.
When Edgerly became Red Bank Catholic’s head coach in 1999 the program was mired in mediocrity, having last won a division title in 1989 when Edgerly was the quarterback. Slowly, he built the Caseys into a consistent winner. In 2004 behind a 2,000-yard season by running back Donald Brown, the Caseys went 6-4. Brown would go on to lead the NCAA in rushing at UConn in 2008 and be drafted by the Indianapolis Colts. The next season, RBC won a division title for the first time in 15 years. Since 2005, RBC has won 10 division titles and two state championships.
“Having gone through something similar – obviously I was much younger then – I’m really looking forward to this challenge,” Edgerly said. “With the size of the school, the depth of the youth leagues and the support from people like Jeremy Braverman and Pete Meehan, it’s definitely exciting.”
A challenge that every coaching staff in New Jersey is facing is how to coach with little to no interaction with players due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the social distancing measures put in place. That is amplified for new coaches who are trying to get settled at a new school, learn about their players and saturated them with ins and outs of the playbook.
“I haven’t even been in the building yet so I can’t tell you what the kids look like or what the locker room looks like,” Edgerly said. “Obviously it’s not an ideal situation and it is certainly going to be a challenge but we’ll lean on our experience and creativity. Every program is in this spot but programs putting together new staffs have to get in front of the kids and get in the weight room, so that’s a bit of a hurdle to begin with. But we’ll rely on our experience, collectively, and find a way.”
Edgerly said he is still in the process of putting together a coaching staff and will announce that when it is complete.
Edgerly resigned from his second stint at Red Bank Catholic back in early February, ending a total run of 14 years at his alma mater. He amassed an 85-54 career mark that included five division titles and one state championship. Edgerly set the foundation on which RBC would become a Shore Conference powerhouse when he coached the Caseys from 1999-2008. Starting with a 6-4 season in 2004, the Caseys have not had a losing season in 16 years. RBC went 8-2 and won the Liberty Division title in 2005, which was the program’s first division championship since 1989. The Caseys won back-to-back division titles in 2007 and 2008, including a 9-1 season in 2008, and went 31-9 with three division crowns from 2005 through 2008.
Edgerly left RBC after the 2008 season to take the job as the Director of Recruiting Operations at Rutgers University during head coach Greg Schiano’s first tenure. He then took a job as a scout with the New England Patriots where he stayed from 2009 to 2013. He was an assistant coach for the Cleveland Browns from 2013 to 2016 and was also a consultant for Vanderbilt University.
Jim Portela took over as RBC head coach in 2009 to lead the Caseys through an unprecedented run. RBC went 61-13 from 2009 through 2015 with five division titles and the NJSIAA Non-Public Group 3 state championship in 2014.
Portela resigned in 2016 and a week later it was Edgerly who returned home to once again lead the Caseys. After a 5-5 season in 2016, the Caseys got back to their usual winning ways with an 8-2 season that included the Class B North division title. The leadup to the 2018 season was filled with hype and potential as the Caseys brought back most of their top players, including FBS recruits Steve Lubischer (Boston College), Charlie Gordinier (Boston College) and Kevin Bauman (Notre Dame). The Caseys did not disappoint, going 10-0 and winning the NJSIAA Non-Public Group 3 state title with a thrilling 14-10 win over Mater Dei Prep at MetLife Stadium.
The Caseys finished 5-4 this past season playing in the newly-formed American Division with fellow Shore Conference powers Toms River North, Rumson-Fair Haven, Manalapan, Middletown South and Long Branch.
Edgerly is a 1990 graduate of Red Bank Catholic where as a senior in 1989 he quarterbacked the Caseys to their first division title. He went on to play at Rutgers and graduated in 1994.
“It’s always refreshing to start a new chapter,” Edgerly said. “It’s something I’m really excited about. This week we’ll connect with the kids and kick this thing off virtually.”
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