A week removed from the 2018 campaign’s conclusion, two of Mercer County’s most successful coaches — Sharon’s Jim Wildman and Hickory’s Bill Brest — have stepped away from their programs.
Hickory High’s Bill Brest formally tendered his resignation to Hermitage School District via letter Wednesday morning.
“It has been a tremendous nine years leading this program to successes on and off the field; however, it is in my best interest at this time to step down,” Brest wrote in a letter addressed to Superintendent Dr. Dan Bell, the board of directors, principals Chris Gill and Diane Brest, and Athletic Director Barb Dzuricsko. “I will always be grateful to you and the Hornets for entrusting me with the football program to help all associated with the program to strive daily to reach their full potential – not only on the field of play, but in their academic, character, social, and family lives.
“Your overwhelming support is something that I will never forget and will always cherish. ... I regret leaving this position, but look forward to what the future has in store for me. I wish nothing but success for the Hickory Hornet football program ... “ he added.
To date, Brest has devoted 32 years to coaching football. Prior to his post at the Hickory helm he served as a collegiate assistant for 12 seasons and 11 as a scholastic assistant. He was on the staff of Hickory’s 1989 PIAA Class AA championship team, coached by Guy Gibbs.
Brest concluded his tenure as Hornets’ headmaster with the highest winning percentage in program annals, with a won-loss ledger of 83-28 (75 percent). That included 6 consecutive District 10 Class AA championships (7 straight appearances in the title tilt, and following a loss in the latter, 18 consecutive D-10 victories) and a pair of PIAA Final Four berths.
For 3 consecutive years (2012-13-14) Brest was selected as Pennsylvania/Ohio Big 22 coach of the year, and also received the West Penn Football Coaches’ Assn. coach of the year award in back-to-back years (2012-13).
Sharon High Coach Jim Wildman had two great runs in leading the Tigers. He said for sure there won’t be a third.
“I just think it was time,” he said as he announced his retirement Monday. “It didn’t have anything to do with parents, players or coaches, and I feel good about where the program is at.”
Mercer County’s winningest all-time coach, posting a phenomenal 259-104-7 record over 31-years in directing the Tigers, Wildman announced that he has submitted his letter of resignation to the Sharon City School District board.
It closes the door on a long and illustrious career that included 2 District 10 titles and 2 appearances in the PIAA semifinals the last 2 years.
The former Sharon High player was hired at his alma mater in 1969 –– after graduating from Clarion State College –– as a teacher and assistant junior high coach. He worked his way through the system and served in the program for head coaches Cliff Smith and Web Forsythe. Then in June of 1977 he was named head coach.
When Wildman retired the first time, in 2002 after 25 years, he had already built a record of 208-78-6. He returned in 2013 and continued his former success.