METUCHEN – A lifelong borough resident who has always had a passion to coach high school football will get that opportunity with his hometown team.
The Metuchen Board of Education approved Jordan Leitner as head football coach of the Metuchen High School (MHS) Bulldogs for the 2022-23 school year.
Leitner, 32, a paraprofessional at the high school, was previously the team’s offensive coordinator.
“Coaching this team has been a dream of mine. Although I was named head coach, it will take a whole community to build the program like I envision it,” Leitner, who graduated from MHS in 2008, said in a statement released by the Metuchen Public School District.
Leitner said growing up in Metuchen, he saw how important the athletic programs were to the town.
He said he believes that when players do well academically it transfers to the field, and that will be his focus, according to the statement.
The new coach wants his team “to play fast and have fun,” according to the statement. He said he plans to “build off of last year, since Coach (Guy) Jensen built a strong foundation.”
Leitner said Metuchen is graduating a lot of players, but that he is ready for the challenge.
Since the Fall of 2007, Leitner has held the Metuchen school record for most career passing yards (3,734) and most career passing touchdowns (44).
“I tell my players I want them to break my record. I’ll be prouder when one of my players holds that record instead of myself,” he said in the statement.
Superintendent Vincent Caputo said, “Jordan brings fresh ideas to the team, but has learned a tremendous amount under the previous coaches. He is respected by the Metuchen community and understands the history of Metuchen football.”
Leitner began playing football through Pop Warner at age 5. At Metuchen High, he was a 4-year varsity player and 3-year starter. He said in his freshman year he went in as “undecided” athlete, but said Coach Bob Ulmer saw him throw and after that, he became a quarterback for his high school career, according to the statement. The Bulldogs advanced to the semi-finals during this time.
After high school, Leitner played semi-professional football with the New Jersey Bravehearts in Edison and worked at a local quarterback camp.
Leitner joined the high school coaching staff under Ulmer. He served as quarterback coach, then passing game coordinator. He then served under Coach Mike Warnock as offensive coordinator, and finally under Jensen for the past three seasons, also as offensive coordinator.
“I’ve learned things from all three coaches. I feel as ready as I can be for a first-time head coach to hit the ground running,” Leitner said in the statement. “To follow football all year around, you see coaches who take their hometown teams all the way. Those type of stories fuel the fire” in pushing him to succeed, he said.
Leitner praised the performance of Metuchen student athlete Antonio “AJ” Perillo, a senior wide receiver/running back this season who had more than 2,000 all-purpose yards (receiving and rushing) in 2021. As offensive coordinator, Leitner said every quarterback he has coached has thrown for more than 1,000-plus yards, according to the statement. Perillo was in the Top 10 in yards in Middlesex County this year.
Leitner also named Will Hronich, from the 2018 team, and current player Steven Michaliszyn, as amazing players to coach, according to the statement. He said they were both able to play both sides of the ball – defense and offense – similar to what Leitner did when he was on the team.
Leitner noted that Michaliszyn was the quickest Metuchen player to get to 1,000-plus yards, breaking the record previously held by Leitner.
Leitner said it was a huge accomplish when Hronich was named to play in the Phil Simms Bowl.
Off the field, Leitner can be found inside Metuchen High as a paraprofessional, a position he has held since 2017.
“I always wanted to work with kids. I learn more from them than they learn from me. They enjoy the simple things in life that make them happy,” Leitner said in the statement.
Leitner, who describes the job as very rewarding, was named MHS Educational Services Professional of the Year for the 2019-20 school year.
He is currently enrolled at Middlesex College and says his future plans include obtaining a teacher certification in Physical Education/Health.
Caputo said there were several other very strong candidates for the head coach position, including those with head coaching experience. He said this shows that Middlesex County “is in very good shape” in terms of football programs.