Blue Devils find their man

LISBON–It’s never easy replacing a coach who has poured 25 years into a football program, but Lisbon is confident it has found the right man to lead the Blue Devils into the future.

The Lisbon Board of Education voted to approve the hire of Alan Mikovich as the school’s new head football coach on Thursday. Mikovich takes over for the recently-retired Jim Tsilimos, who stepped down in January after going 147-115 in his 25 years at Lisbon — including 110-79 from 1990-2007 and 37-36 from 2011-2017. Tsilimos led the Blue Devils to the 1995 Div. V state championship and retired as the winningest coach in school history.

“It’s never easy to follow somebody who has established a strong tradition and who has accomplished as much as coach Tsilimos has,” Mikovich said. “That tradition is something I hope to continue as we journey into the future.”

Mikovich was approved by a unanimous vote. The initial screening committee was comprised of Principal Keith Edenfield and Athletic Director Kyle Bing.

They received 36 applications, interviewed 12 candidates and called four back for second interview which Superintendent Joe Siefke sat in on.

“It was clear pretty quickly that he (Mikovich) was our choice,” Siefke said.

Mikovich is a graduate of Youngstown Chaney High School. As a Cowboy he was a three-year starter and was a captain during his junior and senior seasons. He was named All-City Series his senior season.

He graduated from Youngstown State University with a degree in education and earned a masters degree in administration from Ashland University.

Mikovich got his first coaching job as an assistant at Chaney. He also served two seasons as an assistant at Struthers and was the head coach at Jackson-Milton from 2001-2004. His most recent job was as a defensive assistant at Austintown Fitch from 2007-2016.

“I’ve had the privilege of working with a lot of great coaches over the years and the biggest things I’ve learned are how to treat kids fairly and with respect,” Mikovich said. “Your ultimate goal is to build character and turn kids into productive members of society.”

Mikovich inherits a team that went 6-5 last season and made the playoffs for a third straight year. He said he has already watched film of the Blue Devils and plans to meet with both the players and Tsilimos later this week to get a better feel for the team.

“Coach Tsilimos did not leave the cupboard bare,” Mikovich said. “I’m excited about some of the talent we have here. The one thing I was impressed with on film was the kids’ work ethic.”

Mikovich resides in Austintown with his wife Michele and children Cali and J.C. Cali is a senior on the Youngstown State University softball team. J.C. is a freshman at YSU.

He currently teaches at Southern Local High School.

“Being at Southern was actually how I first found out about the Lisbon job opening up,” Mikovich said. “It was a position that appealed to me because of the strong tradition that was already in place from coach Tsilimos.”

Siefke described Mikovich as a good coach and a family man.

“He has all of the qualities we look for in a coach,” Siefke said. “He has plenty of experience handling students, parents and boosters and I think he understands the tradition we have here.”

Journal Staff Writer Tom Giambroni contributed to this report