Albert Grindle | The Gazette
YORK TWP. — Greg Dennison knew in his heart that he wasn’t finished as a head football coach, and he couldn’t submit his impressive resume quickly enough when the Buckeye position became available.
Those feelings proved to be mutual, as the Bucks selected the 52-year-old to become the 16th coach in school history pending board approval at a special meeting scheduled for 9 a.m. today.
Dennison replaces Mark Pinzone, who had a 33-11 record with four Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division championships and as many Division III playoff berths before taking the head coaching job at D-I Brunswick.
Dennison was selected from a group of finalists also comprised of Medina offensive coordinator Mike Zografos and Strongsville assistant Matt Wilson, formerly head coach at Clearview and Berea.
“I’m really excited, especially to be at a place like Buckeye,” a noticeably upbeat Dennison said. “The more I found out about it, the more I liked — the community, the returning players, where the program is headed, the administration. There’s so many positives.
“I wanted to go back and be a head coach, but I didn’t want to jump at anything. This is a job that could be a special job.”
Dennison’s accomplishments already put him in the company of the greatest coaches in county history. He compiled a 148-77 record, three Suburban League titles (1996, 2007, ‘09) and three regional final appearances (1999, 2003, ‘11) at Wadsworth from 1995-2015.
The Grizzlies developed a reputation for organized, fundamentally sound play built mostly around an I-formation offense and hard-hitting defense. But Wadsworth also featured dazzling passing attacks in the late 1990s and early 2000s with star quarterbacks Mike Hoover and Clint Cochran.
Wadsworth won at least seven games 13 times in Dennison’s 21 seasons. The three losing records had asterisks, as 1995 was his first season, 2010 was handicapped by superstar tailback Jack Snowball missing most of the year with injuries and 2015 saw All-Ohio running back Daniel Weinerman out for multiple games.
Before coming to Wadsworth, Dennison had an 11-9 record at his alma mater, Norton. He also has been an assistant at North Canton Hoover (1987), Barberton (1988-92) and Brunswick (2016).
Dennison will continue to teach math at Wadsworth High.
“The impressive part, of course, is someone of his success and experience was interested in the Buckeye position,” said Buckeye superintendent Kent Morgan, formerly head boys basketball coach at West Holmes and athletic director at Cloverleaf and Brunswick. “That was impressive alone. It really made us feel like we have a very strong football program and tradition here. We knew we were expecting some of the top-notch coaches in the area.
“The things that really impressed us were the different experiences he’s had — not necessarily at Wadsworth, but also when he was at Norton — and that he’s been able to take programs that had been fairly successful and take them to the next step.”
Buckeye is in the midst of its most glorious run since the school was founded in 1953. The Bucks went 9-2 this season and lost to New Philadelphia in the first round of the D-III, Region 9 playoffs. New Philadelphia’s coach is Dennison’s brother, Matt.
The last two seasons have been electric, as Buckeye went 19-3 and outscored opponents 797-235. The Bucks have won 27 of their last 28 regular-season games, including 18 straight in the PAC Stars Division.
The winning culture established by Pinzone — Buckeye was 9-21 from 2010-12 — and proximity to his Wadsworth home made Buckeye attractive to Dennison, who also interviewed for the opening at Medina, which is expected to make its decision soon.
“Everything seemed to work out well. That was a big part of it,” Dennison said. “They have had a lot of success, and one of the first things I’m going to do is see what they like. I don’t want to go in and change everything, because there’s a lot of things working.”
Though they must replace two-time All-Ohio tackle Hunter Gray, three-time All-Gazette linebacker Dustin McCullough and PAC Stars Division Offensive Back of the Year Michael Doerge, the Bucks appear to be loaded with offensive talent.
Slotback Justin Canedy rushed for 1,102 yards and nine touchdowns. Receiver Jonathan Neel posted solid numbers before missing most of the year a broken collarbone, while quarterback Adam Fauver (torn ACL) and running back/wide receiver Dominic Monaco (broken leg) were highly touted before going down with injuries. Slotback Anthony Watkins dominated at the junior varsity level.
Two-way lineman and All-Ohio punter Dominick Kriz is another key returnee, and the offensive line also will return Turner Mitchell, Luke Conrad and Spencer Murphy. The top defensive underclassmen are end Logan Schulz and linebackers Isaiah Williams and Brandon Williams.
“I talked to my brother, and he was impressed with how hard they played and how physical they were,” Dennison said. “If you’re doing those things, you’re going to have a chance to win.”
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or email@example.com.