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**Penn High School Names Internal Candidate as Next Head Football Coach**

MISHAWAKA — Could becoming the team’s defensive coordinator first be the key to leading Penn High School? While not a definite rule, the past two head coaches followed this path.

The most recent addition to this trend is Pete Riordan, who was appointed as the new head coach of the Kingsmen on Wednesday. Riordan, who has been part of the Penn coaching staff for a total of 20 years in two separate periods, most recently held the position of defensive coordinator.

This trajectory mirrors that of his predecessor, as Yeoman also transitioned from being a defensive coordinator under Chris Geesman to assuming the head coach position in 2003.

‘A Remarkable Journey.’

“I’m not entirely certain if that’s the standard procedure, but if history repeats itself, then it could be a beneficial progression,” commented Riordan on the pattern of defensive coordinators moving up to head coach at Penn.

Riordan shared the news with the team in a surprise announcement on Wednesday morning. He now joins a select group as only the third head coach at Penn in the past five decades, following Geesman’s 39-year tenure and Yeoman’s 21 years.

“It was a significant moment to share this news with them first,” Riordan expressed. “I believed it was crucial for them to hear it directly from me rather than through rumors. I informed the assistant coaches beforehand, and I am grateful for their discretion, allowing us to create this memorable moment. Walking in, being embraced by the team, and feeling their excitement was truly special.”

The players, including potential starting quarterback Kellen Watson, welcomed the decision with enthusiasm.

“My reaction was very positive because I knew the athletic department made a sound choice,” remarked Watson, a junior. “Coach Pete is the right fit for us, and I believe he will contribute greatly to our success this year.”

From Michigan:

Sophomore Vinny Freeman is the lone returning starter on defense and expressed satisfaction with Riordan’s promotion, emphasizing the stability it brings to the program.

“Coach Pete’s consistency is reassuring. We know what to expect from him every day,” Freeman stated. “He’s a strong leader who demands hard work from us. Having that predictability is fantastic.”

Penn Athletic Director Jeff Hart highlighted the thorough search conducted to find Yeoman’s successor. Input was sought from various sources, including athletic directors from across the state, to ensure an informed decision.

Further Insights:

“When seeking a head coach, we have certain non-negotiable criteria, regardless of the sport,” explained Hart. “We require individuals of the utmost integrity, competitiveness, and possessing a teacher’s heart, whether or not they are educators. Pete embodies all these qualities.”

Both Geesman and Yeoman attended the press conference introducing Riordan as the new head coach. Riordan previously served on Geesman’s staff from 2000-2002 before Yeoman’s appointment in 2003. Apart from a brief period at Ben Davis High School from 2007-2009, Riordan has been closely involved with the Penn program. Yeoman praised Riordan’s track record of success.

“He has excelled in every role he’s taken on,” Yeoman acknowledged. “Our coaching staff comprises either former champions or coaches who have guided champions, and he falls into both categories.”

Geesman also lauded Riordan’s capabilities.

“The decision seems like a no-brainer. Among the final candidates, Pete stood out as the best choice,” Geesman remarked. “While all four candidates were exceptional, Pete’s familiarity with the program, its standards, and the kind of players we have made him the standout candidate.”

Anticipation Builds:

A South Bend native and former player for the 1995 state champion Saint Joseph football team, Riordan has deep ties to the region, with his wife being a Penn alumna. The couple, who have two daughters, values their connections to the area.

“Penn football holds a special place in the hearts of many. I am fully aware of this significance,” Riordan affirmed. “Having been part of this for over 20 years, both before and after my time at Ben Davis, I aim to continue the program’s legacy, challenge myself and the staff to adapt to the evolving landscape of football, and nurture the holistic development of our players on and off the field.”