EAST HANOVER, N.J.- Dating back to the days he played youth football while growing up in Parsippany, Dan Fulton has had a lot of strong influences on the sidelines.
This fall, it is his job to put it all together for Hanover Park High School.
Fulton was hired as the Hornets new head coach and replaces Gerry Moore, who resigned but will stay on as an assistant.
Fulton has spent the last three years as an assistant to Moore and also spent four years at Whippany Park under Todd Callaghan and another season at Parsippany Hills under Dave Albano.
Fulton played under Albano and that is where much of his interest in coaching began.
Fulton, a 2006 Par Hills graduate, was an offensive lineman-outside linebacker and one of the leaders on a Vikings team that reached the North 1, Group III championship game at Giants Stadium in 2005.
Par Hills, in its first sectional final, wound up losing to Wayne Hills, 46-0. But it was the first time ever in a state final for the school. Fulton was sidelined by sickness for much of the year but still attended practice every day. His love of the daily rigors of football helped inspire him to coach.
"I remember him as a hard-working kid," Albano said. "He was a little undersized, but he was a student of the game. He did whatever we asked of him."
Albano learned a lot about Fulton that year. When the senior was sidelined, he spent a lot of time alongside Albano, one of North Jersey's premier coaches.
"He got sick in camp and it was serious and he lost a tremendous amount of weight," Albano said. "But through it all, he came to practice every day. He didn't miss a practice."
Fulton became hooked not only on the game of football but its day-to-day preparation.
His coaching career continued to blossom thanks to injury while in college. He wound up attending Lock Haven but tore his ACL. Fulton volunteered there as a coach but soon wound up transferring to Montclair State, where he played for three years.
Upon graduating, he returned to the sidelines and worked as an assistant under Albano at Par Hills. The two schools will play Sept. 21, when Hanover hosts Par Hills in Week 3 of the 2018 season.
"I learned so much from him," Fulton said. "He was a huge influence for me. The way he carries himself as a head coach. He runs a program the right way. He gets the most out of his kids."
Fulton will use everything he learned from Moore, Callaghan, and Albano.
"I've learned so much from those guys," Fulton said. "I want to take their best attributes and use them in running my own program. I want to motivate the kids and develop relationships with them. That is one thing Gerry Moore was great at."
Fulton takes over at a school that has reached the sectional semifinals in two of the last three years. The Hornets were 5-5 last year, losing in the first round of the playoffs to Lenape Valley in North 2, Group II.
"It's perfect, a dream job," Fulton said. "Hanover Park has good kids and a great environment. I couldn't ask for more."
Fulton has coaching in his family tree. His grandfather coached wrestling and football at Hackensack High School. Oddly enough, Fulton grew up playing soccer for his dad in Parsippany. But around the sixth grade, Fulton told his dad that he'd had it with kicking the ball around. He quit soccer and played football for the Little Vikings in town.
Fulton wants to continue Hanover's recent success under Moore.
He said, "It's about the kids, building family and building a team. We have a great group of kids at Hanover Park. It is a small town and a dream job. It is a special opportunity for a kid to play at Hanover Park."