Longtime Poly coach Waibel is dead at 67

Football powerhouse produced NFL players

January 07, 2001|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

Augie Waibel, the no-nonsense football coach who led Poly's powerhouse teams to 14 conference titles and turned out such NFL players as Antonio Freeman and Mike Pitts, was found dead yesterday in front of a farmhouse in northern Baltimore County. He was 67.

In 35 seasons - four at Edmondson and 31 at Poly - Waibel's teams won 280 games, which was second among the state's active high school coaches when he retired in 1997. Only four of his teams finished the season without a winning record.

Waibel's eldest son, Billy, 37, said his father, who was on a hunting trip, was discovered by the residents of the house, in Maryland Line. He was slumped on the porch steps, apparently having walked to the house after his truck had stalled.

"He evidently had walked about a quarter of a mile from where his truck was stuck," Billy Waibel said. "The policeman said he had walked from the truck to the house, back to the truck, and that they could follow that in the tracks in the snow.

"There apparently was nobody home, so he couldn't get to a phone."

Waibel's wife of 44 years, Betty, said her husband, an avid hunter and fisherman, left yesterday morning to go hunting.

When her husband was late returning home, Betty Waibel called her son, who set out with friends to search for Augie Waibel. She said she received a call from Billy at about 4:30 p.m. with the news.

She said it is only a small consolation that her husband died "doing one of the things he loved the most."

A center-linebacker at Baltimore's Southern High before graduating in 1952, Waibel starred at both positions at Maryland, helping the Terps win a national title in 1953 before graduating in 1956.

A lacrosse defenseman, Waibel also was a member of the Terps' national championship teams of 1955 and '56.

Waibel's record at Edmondson and Poly was 280-75. He also coached lacrosse and taught physical education at Poly.

Mark Schlenoff, Poly's athletic director, has known Waibel for 30 years.

"He was an icon in the area, and he didn't have an enemy in the world," Schlenoff said. "He was successful because he kept it simple and he worked hard at it. There were no surprises about the way he coached. Everyone knew what Augie was going to do, but he did it so well that people couldn't stop him."

Those who coached against Waibel praised him for instilling sportsmanship, as well as excellence, in his teams.

Sherm Bristow, who coached football at Gilman from 1981 to 1997, said: "Gilman-Poly football games were hard-fought and close and generally determined the championship, but there was never a moment of impropriety between the teams, and that came from the top."

Mitch Tullai, former St. Paul's School football coach and athletic director, called Waibel a "gentleman" who "wants the best for his kids. He wasn't a ranter or a raver, but he gave his kids everything they needed to be successful."

Waibel and longtime assistant Bucky Kimmett were in Green Bay, Wis., last month to see Poly alum Freeman, a Packers wide receiver, play against the Detroit Lions, whose coaching staff includes Poly alum Brian Baker.

Kimmett said he and Waibel "were like school kids all over again" during the trip."

Other Poly alums who went on to the NFL include Pitts, a defensive end who starred at Alabama, became a No. 1 draft choice of the Atlanta Falcons and played in the league from 1983 to 1995; and defensive lineman Greg Schaum, who played for Dallas and New England from 1976 to 1978.

Running back Charlie Pittman, who played for Waibel at Edmondson, went on to star at Penn State and played for the St. Louis Cardinals (1970) and Baltimore Colts (1971).

Said longtime Loyola coach Joe Brune: "Football, hunting and fishing and coaching were the things he loved to do. I guess we both believed in the same kind of things. We're old-school people. Just the way that his teams played - not fancy, not unusual. It worked for him."

Fallston football coach and athletic director Dave Cesky played and coached against Waibel's Poly teams.

"He's one of my heroes as a high school football coach," Cesky said. "I was very fortunate to have played him in his last season of coaching. That was a tremendous honor."

Forest Park athletic director and football coach Obie Barnes said: "I'm a physical education teacher and coach because he was in my life at the time. He was the first guy to talk to me about going to college, majoring in physical education and becoming a coach one day."

In addition to his wife and oldest son, Waibel is survived by a daughter, Stacey Durkee; a son, Michael; and six grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements were incomplete.

Sun staff writer Mike Klingaman contributed to this article.

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