Joseph Shifflet

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HS Wrestling & Football Coaching Great

Even after four decades of coaching, Joe Shifflet still considers himself a student of the game. He rarely starts a season without attending a coaching clinic. “There’s always a few new things you can learn,” he said.

His knowledge and vast experience has put him at the head of the class among Western New York football and wrestling coaches.

The Williamsport, PA native arrived in Buffalo in 1957. He started for three seasons on the offensive line for the University of Buffalo before beginning his high school coaching career. Growing up in central Pennsylvania, Shifflet’s first love was putting on the pads and playing, but he always carried a unique appreciation for football’s Xs and O’s.

Shifflet landed his first head coaching job at Sweet Home in 1964, three years after graduating from UB. He was an instant success, combining a no-nonsense coaching style with an advanced understanding of the game. He was one of the region’s first coaches to run the Veer offense and other option variations.
“I went out and really studied the game every year,” Shifflet said. “I mean, really went out and studied it. I think the secret in high school football is how to adjust.” Shifflet went 127-52-5 and won nine league championships in 22 seasons at Sweet Home. Overall, his football teams won 193 games over 34 seasons at three schools.

In addition, his wrestling squads were consistently among the area’s best. In 21 years as wrestling coach he was 232-54-3 with 12 league titles and 70 individual league championships. He also served 20 years as a wrestling official and was Section VI Chairman for six years. The annual Sweet Home Wrestling Tournament was later changed to carry his name.

He retired from Sweet Home in 1995 after 33 years as a teacher, coach and administrator. He went on to coach football at Tonawanda High School, where he went 40-14 from 1995-2000 before going 26-28 the next six years at Niagara Falls High School.

Becoming semi-retired meant little for a coach with a passion for football and Shifflet agreed to coach the junior varsity at Williamsville East High School in 2007. When the varsity job opened in 2008 he couldn’t say no. “I love this too much,” Shifflet said. “I enjoy working with the athletes. I like the competition.” And he never stops learning.

He joins his seventh Hall of Fame tonight, including UB’s in 1994, but considers this his highest honor.