The month of March was quite the thrill for Clearview’s new head coach.
The St. Peter’s University alumnus watched his college alma mater win its first two NCAA Tournament games in program history — the 10th No.15 seed to upset a No. 2 seed after beating Kentucky, then just the third No. 15 seed to make it to the Sweet 16 round — while he was in discussions to become to next head coach of the Clearview football program.
Ironically enough, after his official appointment as head coach during the March 24 Clearview Regional board of education meeting, Stephen Duncan’s first full day on the new job coincided with St. Peter’s becoming the first No. 15 seed in NCAA Tournament history to make it to the Elite Eight. The 67-64 win over No. 2 Purdue occurred on National Peacock Day, which happens to be the university’s mascot.
Talk about a great way to start your weekend: a new head coaching position and an all-time first from your college alma mater.
Duncan was the Clearview football program’s defensive coordinator from 2017 to ’20, having also previously spent time coaching the wrestling and boys volleyball programs in recent years. He was also the head coach for a brief period of time at Gateway earlier in his career.
Duncan’s new role follows the move by former head coach Steve Scanlon to Alvernia University as assistant head coach and offensive line coach. Duncan said he’s excited to take over from what he believes is a good foundation, thanks to Scanlon.
“I’m excited to get to work,” Duncan said. “I think [Scanlon] got us to a really good place while he was here. It’s not like I’m taking it over after a bad season or with a lack of kids in the program or anything like that.
“I’m walking into a really good situation with a good group of kids and a strong coaching staff with who’s there from last year.”
Over Scanlon’s five years at the helm, the Pioneers compiled a 25-20 record, including three winning seasons and a NJSIAA South Jersey Group 4 sectional championship game appearance.
“I still only just got the job a few days ago, so I’m still in the middle of trying to meet with all the kids and reaching out to the parents, and then getting the coaching staff together,” Duncan said. “But I’m really excited to get this all started.
“We have some really good kids on the team right now,” he added, “and I know of some kids that are coming up next season, too, so I’m excited for sure.”
Duncan was defensive coordinator for the team in its most recent sectional championship appearance, during an 8-3 season that was followed by a 7-3 record the following year.
He left after a COVID-shortened 2020-’21 season when the Pioneers managed to play just three games.
The frustration of preparing for a game all week – only to have the opportunity ripped away – took its toll on Duncan, as it did on others in the program and countless other teams across the country.
“It was really draining,” he said. “It didn’t feel like fun anymore, which it should.”
Duncan took a year off to pursue an MBA and spend more time with his kid before the head coach opportunity presented itself. Since his return to Clearview – and after seeing the talent that’s been developed in recent years – Duncan is excited about his new role.
“I’m just glad to have the opportunity to be a head coach once again,” he said.