DEER LODGE — The Powell County High School school board unanimously voted 7-0 to reinstate briefly suspended head football coach Andrew Verlanic during a Monday evening meeting.
The motion came following a one-hour closed session between Verlanic and the school board in which both parties discussed the fallout from an interview he gave to Deer Lodge News Network on Oct. 5.
In the interview, Verlanic discussed longstanding issues within the Wardens football program — including low participation numbers and a lack of support from the school — saying at one point "there's no light at the end of the tunnel" for the bevy of struggles that led to Deer Lodge dropping to a junior varsity schedule shortly into his first season in 2020 and this year saw the Wardens join the 8-Man ranks.
Although Verlanic had been fired and replaced by assistant coach Mac Bignell, superintendent Rick Duncan emphasized that Monday's meeting was simply to decide whether or not Verlanic's suspension would be upheld for the remainder of the 2022 season.
Bignell, who coached the Wardens in a Monday JV game against Ennis in Verlanic's absence, said he believes Verlanic is the best person for the job.
"Andrew, he knows the game so well and he knows all the kids so well," Bignell said. "He's invested in the kids more than any other coach I've seen."
Nearly one hundred people were in attendance, including the entire Deer Lodge football team who were all wearing shirts with the words "Team Andrew" emblazoned on them.
"He's more than a coach, he's a friend," said junior tight end Louis Savalla of what Verlanic means to the Wardens football team. "There's been plenty of games where we've had our heads low and we don't want to keep going. But no matter how much we're losing by he always keeps our heads up."
Verlanic's reinstatement begins Tuesday. The Wardens play at Simms on Friday and close out the season at home against Lone Peak.