Indians head wrestling coach making move to head coach of football program.
Tom Hontz has been in this spot before.
More than 20 years ago, Hontz took over an Upper Perkiomen wrestling program that had just one victory in its past season. In the years that followed, he slowly but surely crafted a wrestling program that garnered attention at the local level, and then made waves in the state and even nationally.
And if Hontz has anything to say about it, he’d like to duplicate that performance. Only this time, the sport will be football.
Hontz met with the football team a few weeks ago, but won’t officially take the role as head football coach until school board approval Feb. 13. When he does, he will inherit a program that went 1-19 over the past two seasons.
“I’m well aware of the past two years, and we are prepared and ready to struggle to get back to respectability,” Hontz said. “But that’s where we started with wrestling; all you can hope is that the hard work pays off and we can build on it.”
One advantage Hontz has in contrast to his rebuilding of the wrestling team is depth.
“We might be ahead of where we were with wrestling because we just didn’t have the bodies and had to forfeit a lot of bouts,” he said. “But we have some numbers with football, and some young talent coming up, and I think we have some potential there with that combination. Now we just need to learn a tough work ethic and the idea of being competitive athletes.”
While Hontz may be most known for his accolades coaching wrestling under his current tenure, he does have an extensive football background. He has coached Upper Perk football for 17 seasons at various levels including the middle school, ninth grade and junior varsity. This past season, he led the middle school squad to an undefeated season with assistant coach Bill Zimpfer.
In high school, Hontz was an all Bux-Mont defensive back for Quakertown High School. The married father of three still holds the second longest fumble recovery for a touchdown in school history of 83 yards, set back in 1983.
Hontz was an assistant at Upper Perk on then head coach Steve Moyer’s first head coaching stint with the Tribe in the late 1990s. It was during that timeframe that Hontz first toyed with the notion of being a head coach. And when Moyer stepped down after his second tenure as head coach this past fall, Hontz felt the time was right.
“It always intrigued me about running the whole ship,” Hontz said, who is in his 24th year as a social studies teacher at the high school. “Football is a great sport, and if I can bring success it would be a great thrill.”
While he is still working out the details, Hontz does have some of the particulars pinned down. His staff will consist of longtime Upper Perk football coach Chris Bieler and Brian Peoples, both of whom are teachers at the school. Former Upper Perk standout Jake Engle is also expected to be part of the staff, along with Toby Cole, who was part of the Indians’ last championship team in 1997. Ben Kunkle, who previously coached the freshmen team, will help guide the eighth grade program with Zimpfer.
In preparation for next season, Hontz will begin offseason weightlifting next week. Sessions will be held four times a week, before and after school. When Hontz first met with team, he stressed the conditioning and work will be hard, but improvement will come with it.
“I’m hoping for a putting a product out there that we can be proud of,” Hontz said. “Honestly, I’m bringing the wrestling attitude to the sport of football. Everyone is ready to get started; the toughest part is the long wait until we can get out there.”