Brent Croasmun Retires at Paden City Head Football Coach, Hands Reins to Former Wildcats Zach Heasley
Former Paden City QB takes over as coach
Now, after 20 years as the head football coach of his alma mater, Croasmun has decided to hang it up to spend more time with his family.
He’s also retiring from teaching, though he would like to stay on as a substitute and will continue to coach the baseball team.
“I’ve been coaching now for 37 years as an assistant and head coach,” Croasmun said. “I’ve got four grandchildren that I want to spend more time with.
“I have a granddaughter who plays fast pitch softball and I want to go watch some of her games.
“It’s just time for me to step away and enjoy my family. I’m thankful for my wife Debbie and kids (Chris, Mike and Kayla) for allowing me to do it for 37 years.
“I still love the game but it’s time to move on to the next part of my life.”
Taking over the reins will be former Paden City quarterback Zach Heasley, who played under Croasmun for four years and graduated in 2015.
Heasley was an all-state special mention his junior year and went on to play defensive end at West Liberty University, where he is majoring in Athletic Training and will graduate in May.
He currently has class Monday-Friday but still gets back to Paden City twice a week for offseason lifting.
“This is an honor,” Heasley said. “I always thought it would be good to give back to the community. It’s an amazing experience being 22 years old and stepping into the coaching position in your hometown. I am very lucky.
“Our focus will be on fundamentals, family and Paden City pride. We want the kids to know who they are playing for and that goes a long way in our little community.
“That’s what I love about Paden City. It’s small but it’s a tight knit community.”
Although Croasmun will no longer be on the sideline with Heasley, the lessons he learned on the field four years ago will still be etched in his mind.
“Something I learned from Croasmun was to always calm myself down and just play,” Heasley said.
“When I was a freshman quarterback, I was always overthinking. I believe I can use that as a first-year head coach, too.”
Croasmun admits he will miss the game but is excited to see what Heasley can do for the program and will be happy to give him advice.
“Zach has a lot of football knowledge from playing at West Liberty,” Croasmun said. “I’ve been trying to guide him along and I’ll help him with anything he needs. If he wants advice I am here to offer it.”
Croasmun got his start coaching in 1981 as an assistant at Magnolia for Dave Tallman’s freshman team before moving up as an assistant to coach Dave Cisar at the varsity level.
Then, at Paden City, he worked his way up as an assistant to Jerry Mobley, Dave Bohrer and Mike Flannery before taking the head coaching spot.
In 2001, he led his Wildcats to an 8-3 campaign and a playoff spot, where they fell to eventual state champion Moorefield. However, what he will remember the most is the bond he shared with his players and community.
“I just really enjoyed being around the kids and competing,” Croasmun said. “Growing up, I played some type of sport in the yard every day. Those were the old school days and I learned to be competitive and tried to instill that in our kids.”
That is another lesson that Heasley took with him in his time with Croasmun.
“He taught me about playing with pride,” Heasley said. “As a freshman QB, he pushed me to be better on and off the field. That’s what I want to do. Get back to the Paden City values on and off the field.
“I have a Dabo Swinney mindset. I want to know the players on and off the field. If something is going on in their lives, I want them to know they can talk to me about it. If they trust you, then they will give it their all.”
With Heasley’s work ethic and attitude, Croasmun knows he is leaving the program in good hands but he will still miss those Friday night lights.
“Every time the school song plays and every time I step out on to that field, it’s special to me,” Croasmun said. “I’ve been in this town all my life. I went to high school here when sports were thriving in the 1970’s.
“My dad took me to games when I was old enough to walk and that’s probably what got me started in sports. We always stood on the sidelines.
“I just want to thank some of my assistant coaches through the years Joe Anderson, Ron Casto and Tim Raper. They were very loyal to me and I appreciated what they did on the coaching staff.
“I also want to thank all the people who supported us and kept stats, people driving equipment trucks and all the players who have participated over the last 37 years. I really enjoyed coaching all of the kids.”
Casto will be back on the sidelines next year as Heasley’s assistant, along with athletics director Rob Price.