BYFIELD — First-year Triton Regional High athletic director Donna Andersen brought closure to searches for two head coaching positions over the weekend, hiring football and hockey coaches.
Former Triton head hockey coach Drew Wile will return to the position, replacing Kevin Dodier, who led the school's hockey team to a combined record of 10-37-8 over the last three seasons.
Andersen also hired Triton assistant football coach Pat Sheehan to replace Jim O'Leary, who led the school's football team to a 12-10 record over the last two seasons.
Wile, 35, will return to the program after a three-year hiatus. He was not rehired following the 2006-2007 season due to a dispute with the Triton administration over whether one of his former players deserved a varsity letter following the season. His lone Viking squad posted an 11-5-5 mark with the highlight coming in a late-season victory over Division 1 opponent Everett.
"I have no ill feelings from the way things ended the first time," Wile said. "That's done and over; it was three or four years ago. I look at it as a learning lesson for everyone involved. What I see is a different commitment from the new administrators involved with this process."
Wile said he met with Triton Principal Kevin McLaughlin, Assistant Principal Scott Brennan and Andersen prior to accepting the position.
"They really have a renewed commitment to what they want to do," Wile said. "It goes with my philosophy and what worked well when I was here before. It's the way I've gone about things at other programs."
Andersen said Wile's previous experience at Triton was viewed as a positive by the selection committee.
"He did a great job for us when he was here," Andersen said. "He's very structured, he commands respect from his players, and he has pretty good experience. He seems to be what we're looking for."
Sheehan, 27, is an algebra teacher at Triton Regional High School. The alumnus of Lynnfield High and Framingham State College started his coaching career in 2005 as a wide receivers and defensive backs coach at Lynnfield High under Bill Adams. He joined the Triton staff in 2007 under Shawn McElligott, but returned to Lynnfield as the offensive coordinator in 2008. He spent the last two years as Lynnfield's offensive coordinator; the Pioneers won a CAL Small title last fall and made their first playoff appearance in 26 years.
"If you had asked me a few years ago, I would have applied for any head coaching job," Sheehan said. "After this past season at Lynnfield, I wasn't going anywhere else unless it was the right job. I teach in the building at Triton, I get along great with the kids, and I like the people I work with and for."
Wile, an alumnus of Ipswich High and Salem State College, served as an assistant coach at Catholic Memorial for seven seasons prior to coming to Triton the first time. After he parted ways with the Vikings, he returned to CM for one season, took the following season off after having twins, and served as an assistant for Super 8 participant Winchester last winter.
He readily admits that his team's goal will be to compete with Cape Ann League and River Rival foe Newburyport — a team that has played for a state championship each of the last two years at the TD Garden. To his credit, Wile served on the staff of five state championship teams at CM. In his one season coaching in the CAL, Wile's Vikings finished tied with Newburyport in the league standings, but the head-to-head tie-breaker went to the Clippers.
"I'm not saying I'm going to turn water into wine in the first year," Wile said. "But I have five rings. I've also lost twice in front of 10,000 people at the Garden. The only person in the CAL with more Garden experience than me is (Newburyport coach) Paul Yameen. Obviously, Newburyport is playing with heavy hitters right now. He has the program rolling on all cylinders. I'm confident in what I can do, too. I've done this once before, so there's no reason I can't do it again."
The Triton hockey program once thrived under coach Dan O'Connell, who was inducted into the Mass. State Hockey Coaches Hall of Fame in 2007. In the 24 years between 1974 and 1998, O'Connell's teams claimed 10 Cape Ann League titles and, at one point, posted a streak of 21 consecutive state tournament appearances. Triton posted an 18-0-2 regular-season record as recently as 2005-2006.
"We had some memorable battles with those guys when Drew was there," Yameen said. "When it was over, we shook hands and there was a mutual respect between the teams. I think Drew enjoyed being there, and his kids played with discipline. I think it might take a little time to turn it around, but this will be good for our rivalry and the league."
Sheehan completed his first season as Triton's freshman boys basketball coach last winter. Andersen said his enthusiasm for the position and his playing experience impressed the selection committee. As a wide receiver, Sheehan was the team MVP of the Framingham State College football team in 2004.
"His strength is the offensive line and the offensive aspect of the game," Andersen said. "We liked him because of his enthusiasm. He presented well. The kids in the school really like and respect him. All in all, his playing and coaching experience and his likability in the school system impressed us."
Sheehan plans to bring his shotgun, spread, no-huddle offense from Lynnfield. As of 2011, Triton will be in a new division, which will include a mixture of CAL and Northeastern Conference teams (Triton, Pentucket, Amesbury, Newburyport, Winthrop, Saugus).
"It's a humbling experience to join a league with coaches like (Masconomet coach) Jim Pugh, (Pentucket coach) Steve Hayden, (Newburyport coach) Ed Gaudiano and (North Andover coach) John Rafferty," Sheehan said. "All of those guys have been coaching since I was playing."
Sheehan believes the program made progress under previous coach Jim O'Leary, but would like to reach a point where the Vikings compete with teams like Masconomet and North Andover in future seasons.
"The program seems to have turned around and Triton won some games against smaller schools," Sheehan said. "Quite frankly, Triton should be winning those games. There's still work to be done. Now it's time for us to compete with the CAL iron."
Sheehan would also like to instill some traditions that McElligott, a Triton alumnus, started when he was coach.
"Shawn was a fantastic mentor as a football coach, and I consider him my biggest mentor in the building," Sheehan said. "I hope that some of the traditions that Shawn brought to this program, I can also bring to the table. He embodies loyalty and discipline."