Climbing the ladder

Mettlach already promoted even before coaching 1st game at Michigan Tech

From left, mother Marti Mettlach, father Richard Mettlach Jr. and grandfather Richard Mettlach Sr. talk with then-Michigan Tech University quarterback Dan Mettlach after the Huskies' home game against Mercyhurst in Dan's senior season in the fall of 2004. (Houghton Daily Mining Gazette file photo)

By Journal Sports Staff

HOUGHTON — Gwinn native Dan Mettlach has been promoted from assistant head coach to offensive coordinator of the Michigan Tech University football team, the school announced on Wednesday.

Several other announcements were also made in regard to the Huskies coaching staff under Steve Olson, who replaces Tom Kearly as head coach this fall.

Current assistants Josh Wood and Bryan Thomas have been named co-defensive coordinators, while Phil Milbrath joins the staff as running backs coach. Milbrath was a former outstanding back with the Huskies.

Mettlach starred at Gwinn High School, graduating in 2000, and was a three-time All-Mid-Peninsula Conference selection at quarterback. In his senior year, he also received all-state, All-Upper Peninsula Dream Team and M-PC Offensive Player of the Year honors.

He threw for 3,479 yards and 42 touchdowns as a varsity Modeltowner and ran for another 1,173 yards and 25 TDs, all under his father and then-Gwinn head coach Dick Mettlach Jr.

Dan Mettlach went on to play QB at MTU from 2001-04, ranking among the Huskies’ best-ever signal callers. He ranks fourth in school history in total offense with 6,438 yards and 66 TDs, and is sixth in passing yards, completing 358 passes for 5,261 yards and 50 TDs.

Mettlach helped lead MTU to the GLIAC title in 2004, when he was selected GLIAC Player of the Year and all-conference first team. He was team captain in 2003 and 2004 and was named a Daktronics All-American honorable mention after his senior season.

He has spent time coaching at several colleges and universities before Tech, including at Northern Michigan University from 2007-09, where he was quarterbacks, wide receivers, strength and conditioning coaches, along with academic coordinator.

After NMU, Mettlach was quarterbacks coach at Hillsdale in 2011, when the Chargers won the GLIAC title and averaged 31.6 points and 241.6 passing yards and 463.3 total yards offense per game.

Then he went to NCAA Division III Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, for 2012-13, serving as special teams and passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

Most recently, he spent three years at Finlandia University in Hancock, helping head coach Tim Driscoll begin the program from scratch. Mettlach was assistant head coach and offensive coordinator.

Mettlach was named an MTU coach in January.

“We are very excited about the addition of Dan Mettlach to our coaching staff,” Olson said when Mettlach first joined the Tech staff. “He also brings recruiting knowledge of all areas we recruit and in addition brings an array of coaching talents to our staff. He has coached all the offensive skill positions, special teams, and been an offensive coordinator.

“I’m happy to announce that Coach Mettlach will now become our offensive coordinator and work with our quarterbacks and wide receivers,” Olson said last week. “Dan played in this system and coached here through spring ball and will transition smoothly into the new role. In addition to his areas that he recruits in the Upper Peninsula, Mettlach will now recruit downstate Michigan.”

During his coaching years, he has also recruited in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Ohio and Arizona.

Mettlach’s family has extensive football experience. Dick Mettlach Jr. coached the Modeltowners to several playoff appearances, including making it to the MHSAA Division 6 semifinals in 1999, Dan Mettlach’s junior season.

Dick Jr. also was an outstanding player at Forest Park, which is where Dan Mettlach’s grandfather Dick Mettlach Sr. became a legendary coach. The Crystal Falls team reached the state Class D championship game six times between 1975-84, winning two titles.

Michigan Tech wrapped up the 2016 season 4-6, but had huge wins over 9th ranked Ashland and the 7th straight Miner’s Cup victory in overtime at Northern Michigan. The Huskies kickoff the 2017 season at home on Thursday night August 31st against Truman State. This year’s schedule features six home games with NMU, Wayne State, Davenport, and Ferris State coming to Houghton in addition to Truman State and Grand Valley State.

The kick-off for the season opener against Truman State is slated for 7 p.m.

Information compiled by Journal Sports Editor Steve Brownlee. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.


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