Head Coach/Offensive Line Coach
Travis Wiltzius enters his third year as a member of the Finlandia University football coaching staff. He has been the offensive line coach and recruiting coordinator since he started. In the spring of 2017, Wiltzius added the duty of Assistant Head Coach.
A native of Escanaba, Mich., Wiltzius helped Escanaba qualify for the Division 3 state playoffs as a senior. Following graduation, he was a member of the coaching staff at his alma mater where he helped the Eskymos qualify for the Division 3 playoffs twice.
In 2010 Wiltzius arrived at Central Michigan and became a student manager for the football team. He worked his way up to offensive intern to offensive quality control and in 2014 offensive graduate assistant coach. The Chippewas played in two bowl games and won the 2012 Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl. Wiltzius helped coached three All-Mid-American Conference first team selections including the 2013 NFL Overall first pick, Eric Fisher.
Wiltzius has a B.A. in Sports Management from Central Michigan. He resides in the Hancock-Houghton area.
Defensive Backs/Special Teams Coordinator
Robert Garth joined the Finlandia University football coaching staff on Dec. 12, 2017. He will be coaching defensive backs and serving as special teams coordinator.
Garth, who spent the 2017 season at East Ridge High School (Clermont, Fla.), was a wide receiver for three years with the Detroit Lions practice squad and eight years in the Arena Football League (AFL). Best known for his 6-plus seasons with the Green Bay Blizzard, Garth was honored by Arena Football as one of the top 10 Ironman players of all time for his play both on offense and defense.
Garth began his coaching career in 2006 as a member of the football staff at West De Pere High School (Wis.). Over the next few years, he held coaching positions with Green Bay East High School (Basketball -2009), the Green Bay Blizzard (AFL - 2010), and Green Bay Southwest High School (Football - 2012).
In 2013, Garth joined the football coaching staff at Little Chute High School (Wis.). He worked primarily with receivers, using his professional experience to train a talented group of receivers. In 2014, Garth helped guide the team to the WIAA Division 4 State Championship.
In 2015 Garth headed to Florida where he became a football coach at West Orange High School in Winter Garden. In 2016, he returned to his alma mater New Mexico State, where he worked with tight ends.
DJ Pirkle joined the Finlandia University football coaching staff on Dec. 12, 2017. he will serve as Defensive Coordinator.
Pirkle, who most spent the 2017 season as an assistant to Massachusetts defensive coordinator Ed Pinkham, is no stranger to Boss. He was the defensive line coach in 2016 at Northern Michigan, working alongside Boss.
Pirkle was a four-year letter winner at Northern Illinois, appearing in 46 games with 31 starts at defensive tackle. He finished his career with 75 total tackles, 22.5 TFLs and eight sacks. Pirkle played in three bowl games at NIU and helped the Huskies to a 40-17 win over Fresno State in the 2010 Humanitarian Bowl.
Pirkle started his football coaching career as an assistant coach at Lincoln Way East High School (Frankfort, Ill.) in the summer of 2012. He assisted on the defensive side of the ball for a team that finished as the Class 7A state runner up with a record of 13-1. Pirkle was also the defensive coordinator for the J.V. program.
From 2013-15, Pirkle worked under PJ Fleck at Western Michigan. He worked on the defensive side of the ball and helped recruit three straight #1 ranked recruiting classes in the Mid-American Conference. Pirkle was also a part of the first NCAA bowl victory in WMU history.