Ringgold graduate Darwin Manges named Rams’ football coach
By: Jeff Oliver
Tuesday, January 22, 2019 | 10:33 PM
Ringgold went out of state to get a new football coach, but it came back with a familiar name.
Darwin Manges was hired by the Ringgold School Board at a special meeting Tuesday night. A 1985 Ringgold graduate, Manges had spent the majority of his teaching and coaching career in Delaware.
He last coached football in 2011 as an assistant on the staff at Wesley (Del.) College.
Before that, he had two stints as a high school head coach at Dover High (1999-05) and Christiana High (2006-10).
Manges quarterbacked Ringgold to the conference championship his senior year in 1984, kicking a field goal in the final game of the regular season to clinch the title. He also was a member of the 1982 Ringgold team that won the Quad-A Division II championship.
“I’m so excited for this opportunity,” said Manges, who retired Tuesday as a special education teacher. “It’s been such a long time since I was back around my family, and I’m thrilled to coach my alma mater.”
Equally as excited about the hire was Ringgold athletic director Laura Grimm.
“We had some quality people apply and any time you can get an alum who is interested, it has to open your eyes. Darwin interviewed so well, and he is as qualified or more qualified than anyone we talked to. His enthusiasm is so great it has rubbed off on me. I’m as excited as he is.”
Between coaching stints in high school, Manges served as a dean of students and athletic director at two schools and won numerous awards in those capacities. He also served as an assistant football coach.
He claimed he gave up coaching after 2011 to watch his daughter play field hockey.
Manges played under coach Bill Connors at Ringgold before continuing his grid career at Edinboro. However, his collegiate career was cut short because of injuries during his freshman season.
“Running Coach Connors’ offense took a toll on me,” Manges said with a laugh of his brief college career.
He will take over a Rams program that is coming off one of the worst seasons in school history, going 0-10 under coach Mike Zmijanac, who resigned in November.
Ringgold scored 26 points, the fewest in the WPIAL, while also allowing 511 points, the second-most in the WPIAL.
However, Manges is undaunted by the task.
“It was a tough situation for them and they were really young,” he said of the 2018 Rams. “I can’t wait to get started. I’m going to break down film on Hudl now and go from there.
“My first job is to put together a good staff, and I’m hoping to do so from within,” he added. “I want as many Ringgold grads on my staff as possible. I want to show the players and the community this is going to be a home grown program and we’re going to go to work.”
Grimm said Manges was given a three-year contract, which she added is standard among district coaches.
“I like the idea of him wanting alums on his staff,” Grimm said. “Ever since the season ended, the sentiment has been throughout the community that Ringgold needs a local coach with the program. Well, that’s what we have and it’s a quality hire.”
Manges said he and his wife will be coming to the district this week to look at some houses, and he plans on meeting with the players Friday.
“This is like a dream come true for me,” he said. “I can’t wait to get started. It doesn’t seem real yet. I’m so happy and now the work starts.”
Manges and his wife Ashley have three children.
Jeff Oliver is a freelance writer for the Mon Valley Independent.