NEC home opener set for 1:10 Saturday on Rooney Field
Niel Loebig returns as passing game coordinator and receivers coach; Connor Dixon named tight ends coach
NCAA Football Championship bid hopes still alive on Senior Day
Dave Opfar, the former head coach at Saint Francis, Pa. for eight seasons, is in his third year as defensive coordinator and defensive line coach for Jerry Schmitt's Dukes.
Opfar's impact on the program can be seen in the drastic improvement shown by the defense over the past two seasons. Opfar inherited a unit that finished ranked 83rd in FCS total defense in 2009. In 2010, the defense ranked 50th and last year improved to 4th, giving up an average of 281.6 yards per game. The 2011 defense, which led the NEC in total defense, scoring defense, pass defense and pass efficiency defense also produced a third team Associated Press All-America in safety Serge Kona.
It is the second stint at Duquesne for Opfar who began his college coaching career on the Bluff as the defensive line coach under Greg Gattuso in 1993. The McKeesport, Pa. native, who served on the Dukes' staff along with Schmitt, spent five years at Duquesne eventually serving as defensive coordinator for DU's 1996 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Football League championship team.
Opfar began his coaching career at Duquesne High School under former Penn State teammate Pat Monroe before coming to Duquesne to work with another PSU teammate in Gattuso.
Following his five seasons on the Bluff, Opfar returned to Penn State where he served as a graduate assistant offensive line coach on Joe Paterno's staff. After two years in State College, Pa., Opfar returned to western Pennsylvania to accept a position as defensive coordinator at Washington and Jefferson.
In his three seasons at W&J (1999-01), Opfar helped the Division III Presidents to a 29-6 record. Washington and Jefferson led the Presidents Athletic Conference (PAC) in fewest points allowed (sixth in the nation at 11.5 ppg), pass defense (90.2 yards/game), turnover margin (+12) and sacks (35) in his final season.
Opfar then moved on to Loretto, Pa. where he inherited a struggling Saint Francis, Pa. program that had lost 23 consecutive games and had a roster of 73 players prior to his taking over in 2002. During Opfar's tenure, the Saint Francis program made great strides, moving from the Pine Bowl to DeGol Field and seeing the addition of locker rooms and an updated weight room facility.
Opfar's Red Flash produced an NEC Offensive Player of the Year (current DU quarterbacks coach Anthony Doria in 2005) and Defensive Rookie of the Year (Scott Lewis in 2007). Opfar, who finished with a 17-68 record at Saint Francis, coached 28 All-NEC players including 10 in his last two seasons.
A graduate of South Allegheny High School, Opfar started at defensive tackle for Penn State's 1982 national championship team. A two-year starter, Opfar completed his undergraduate degree 1983. From there, it was on to the Philadelphia Stars of the United States Football League where he played for league championship teams in 1984 and 1985.
Following his USFL career, Opfar worked briefly as a counselor at a correctional facility for youths before signing a free agent contract with the Steelers in 1986. He started three games for Pittsburgh during the National Football League players' strike that year.
At the conclusion of his season with the Steelers, Opfar played three years in the Arena Football League with the Pittsburgh Gladiators (1988), Albany Firebirds (1989) and San Antonio Force (1990).
Opfar resides in Elizabeth, Pa. with his daughter Ashley.
Coach Opfar may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.