In somewhat of a surprising move Tuesday, North Harford High School announced Eugene Liebel as the school's new head football coach.
Liebel takes over a position that was held by former head coach Ken Brinkman, who was released from the coaching position and transferred out of the school as a physical education teacher at some point in December.
Ken Zorbach, Harford County's supervisor of high school athletics and physical education, curriculum, instruction and assessment, and Tim Larrimore, North Harford athletic director, both refused to comment on Brinkman's status. Both wrote in emails that neither could make any comment because it is a personnel issue.
The Hawks football program, however, confirmed Brinkman's departure in a Dec. 31 Facebook post. The post on the hawksendzone site read, "Please mark your calendar and attend the next Endzone Club meeting on January 15th at 7:00 in the NHHS media center. With the recent transfer of Coach Brinkman, we have lots to discuss in moving forward and would love to see some new faces getting involved."
"I mean I hate the situation that it happened in, but you can't control how the opportunities come in front of you and this is an exciting opportunity for me," Liebel said Wednesday. "It's something I've always wanted to do at the school I'm teaching at. So because of that, I'm excited."
While Zorbach couldn't comment on the issue, he did confirm the pay scale for a varsity football coach in Harford County.
"The salary for the head varsity coach is $3,659. $100 longevity pay is given to coaches after every five years up to 15 years of service. So the max any coach could receive for longevity is $300 even if they had been coaching for 25 years," Zorbach wrote.
Liebel, a business education teacher in his seventh year at North Harford High School, has a storied background on and around the gridiron.
Liebel played running back at Fallston, graduating in 1998. He then attended Towson University and played fullback for the Tigers, graduating in 2002.
Upon the college graduation, Liebel joined the Fallston High School program as a running backs coach. Eventually, Liebel was named offensive coordinator/QB coach at Fallston, under Head Coach Dave Cesky. Liebel has been the offensive coordinator at Fallston for the last 10 years.
"Obviously I owe a great deal to coach Cesky," Liebel said. "He gave me my first opportunity in coaching, helped me grow as a coach, and has always been a great mentor and friend."
Liebel was to meet with North Harford football's "Endzone Club" Wednesday evening.
"I have not at all yet, but again, it's pretty new," Liebel said of any resistance that could occur.
As for plans, Liebel said, "Focused on getting off-season training started, we're a little behind. Because I was planning on starting with Fallston's offense the first week of January. We plan on starting in February."
Brinkman's head coaching career spanned 13 seasons, in which the Hawks posted a 89-48 record. The Hawks qualified for the playoffs seven times under Brinkman and they lost three times in region championship game appearances.
"Sometimes change makes people excited, we'll see," Liebel said.