Jeff Wallack was attracted to the head football coach position for several reasons, three of which stood out more than most.
He wanted to coach in a district with only one high school, was encouraged by the district’s junior program’s participation numbers and loved the Whitnall community, one where he and his wife Jamie would like to raise their sons AJ and Parker.
Oh yeah, let’s not forget about the , which will include a new football stadium equipped with a turf field and and are on schedule to be completed in time for the 2012 football season.
“I didn’t really think about that until (athletic director) Mr. (Rick) Elertson was giving me a tour,” Wallack said. “That’s going to be an incredible facility. It’s going to rival some local small school colleges, as far as the quality. That’s always nice to have. It’s going to be real fun and a great opportunity.”
Wallack has been named head coach at Whitnall, replacing Rob Leboeuf, . A 39-year-old special education teacher at Milwaukee Hamilton, Wallack has coached and/or taught for 14 seasons. He spent the last six seasons as head coach at Hamilton, where he compiled a 31-27 record, including an 8-2 mark two seasons ago.
Before coaching at Hamilton, Wallack was an assistant coach at Whitefish Bay. During high school, he played for legendary, hall-of-fame coach Phil Datka at Germantown High School. He called Datka a “second father” and said the Germantown coach and highly successful Homestead coach Dave Keel have impacted his coaching career.
“They were pretty influential in my life and still are,” said Wallack, who will be introduced to parents and players at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the high school. “They always seem to have the answers to do the things the right way.
“I want the kids to know I’m a players’ coach. I’m going to work hard for them. It’s not about the wins and losses but about creating a great experience. Football is a great life teacher. I can’t think of a better sport that helps you prepare for adulthood. That reverts back to Datka and Keel. Those are things they’ve instilled in me.”
Wallack helped turn around a Hamilton program that was considered by many a doormat of the City Conference for years. His team made the playoffs in four straight seasons from 2008-2011, doubling the school’s all-time playoff appearances total.
“We came into a situation where they said you can’t win games there,” Wallack said. “What we were able to do through implementing a high-character program was give the kids a sense of pride. We started doing the right things. It’s not coincidence that we started winning a lot of ball games.”
On the field, Wallack said he’s an “option guy” at heart when it comes to running an offense, but said his Hamilton offenses evolved based on the personnel available – there was use of a spread formation and a hybrid wing-t – and he expects the players to dictate what kind of offense is put in place at Whitnall.
“We’re going to look at the talent coming back very carefully,” Wallack said.
Defensively, the same holds true, but Wallack has been influenced by Keel’s 4-4 scheme at Homestead.
The , including 3-5 in the Woodland Conference, ending a three-year run of WIAA playoff appearances. During Leboeuf's eight-year tenure as head coach, Whitnall was 26-49 overall and 22-34 in the Woodland.