A standout in his days as a student-athlete wearing the blue and black, Penn Cambria graduate Nicholas Felus will return to his roots as the Panthers’ newest football coach, after the school board approved his hiring Tuesday evening.
Felus, 41, played quarterback and wide receiver at Lock Haven University. He has served as assistant football coach at Bethany College, Shepherd University, and Sherando and Coatesville High Schools, as well as head football coach at Altoona Area High School.
Nick is the son of well-known area basketball official Michael Felus and former athletic administrator Patricia Felus, who reside in Lilly.
He will replace John Franco, who returned to the Tyrone High School program he had made into a powerhouse in the 1990s. Franco led Penn Cambria to a 4-6 mark in 2018 after the Panthers were winless the previous season.
Before the Altoona Area School District opened the position recently, Felus had compiled a 7-23 record in three seasons and was respected for his commitment to youth programs as he worked diligently to build the football program in the district.
“I am very excited about the hiring of Nick Felus,” said Penn Cambria Athletic Director Chuck Terek. “Having a Penn Cambria graduate coming back home will have the community buzzing. Nick’s experience and knowledge of the game is second to none.”
Terek said he is looking forward to working with Felus to ensure the long-term success of the football program.
Felus, who had his first team meeting on Wednesday afternoon, said he is excited.
“I am extremely humbled and honored to be selected as the head football coach at Penn Cambria High School,” he said.
“I have always bled blue and black and had that Panther pride. My family and I are excited to be part of such a great school district and community.”
Thanking the administration, school board and community, Felus said coming back home to lead his alma mater with his family so close by makes the opportunity even more special.
“I had a great experience here and I want my players to have the same type of experience,” he emphasized. “Our players are going to be great citizens first as well as great students. They will learn what it means to give back and will be an important part of the community. We are going to play an exciting brand of football, and we are going to have fun doing it.”
Felus said he will rely on the values he learned from his coaches at Penn Cambria.
“Through hard work, dedication, and diligent effort, we are going to do all of this,” Felus said. “I have had the opportunity to learn from some great coaches along the way, especially at Penn Cambria with coach Tony Tomaselli and Bruce Frycklund.
“Those are two solid coaches whom I’ve learned a lot from.”
Before taking over at Altoona, Felus was offensive coordinator at Coatesville, and said head coach Matt Ortega was very influential in his own coaching career.
“I have great respect for him,” Felus said.
“In my opinion, Nick is bringing years of experience and positive influence to the students and the football program,” said board member Mike Sheehan.
“I sat through the interview process, and he shared past experiences as well as areas he felt he needed to improve in, and highlighted how he will do that. As always, it’s great to have an alumni that was also an athlete return to the area and be part of the PC family.”