Former Kent State University assistant coach Matt Battaglia will be the new head coach of Fenwick's varsity football team (Courtesy of Kent State).

In a press release on Dec. 9, Fenwick announced that Matt Battaglia will be taking over as the Friars next varsity football coach. He steps in as the 16th head coach to be at the helm of the school’s football program. Battaglia will also fill the assistant athletic director role starting on Dec. 23.

“We are thrilled to have Matt take the reins of our football program and lead the Friars on the gridiron into the next decade,” said Athletic Director Scott Thies in the statement.

“Matt is a person of great character who has been surrounded by great coaches and mentors his entire life, including Pat Dunne, Rod Carey, Mike Fitzgerald and Sean Lewis. His vision for the program, student-centered approach and passion for football really stand out. Matt brings an innovative style of offensive football that has proven to be successful at the high school and collegiate level.”

Battaglia’s last position was as graduate assistant coach at Kent State University, a job he’s held since January 2018. Previously, he was the offensive line coach at Marist College Prep High School (2015-18) and at St. Francis High School (2014-15). As a player, he was a guard at Northern Illinois University from 2010-13. He is a Marist High School graduate.

Battaglia takes over for Gene Nudo, who served as the Friars’ head coach for eight years. He agreed to step down from his position after he allowed convicted sex offender Frank Battaglia (who is not related to Matt) to assist him during the 2016 season. Nudo also worked for the school as assistant athletic director.

After Nudo left the team in early November, the Friars turned to defensive coordinator Titcus Pettigrew as interim head coach for the two playoff games that Fenwick played without Nudo.

After upsetting Water Payton High School 21-17 in the first round of the IHSA 5A playoffs on Nov. 2, the Friars’ season ended against Hillcrest High School in the second round on Nov. 9.

In a post-game discussion after the loss to Hillcrest, Pettigrew said he would “gladly accept” the head coaching position if it was offered to him. The school didn’t say whether Pettigrew would return to his position as the defensive coordinator.

In the statement, Battaglia said, “I am extremely grateful and excited for this opportunity to become the next head football coach at Fenwick and contribute to the great tradition of Friar Football. I can’t wait to get started and work with the Fenwick Family to build a program that is on the cutting edge of football and makes the entire community proud!”

Battaglia takes over a Friar roster that is loaded with young talent. Kaden Cobb (quarterback), Eian Pugh (wide receiver), Danny Kent (running back) and Max Reese (wide receiver) returning for their junior years after spending last year on varsity.

Fenwick will welcome Battaglia as its next football coach on Dec. 11 at 6:30 p.m. at a special event in the school’s auditorium.

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