Former Owen J. Roberts boys basketball coach Chris Talley is the new head man at Spring-Ford.
Former Owen J. Roberts boys basketball coach Chris Talley is the new head man at Spring-Ford. (Mercury file photo)

BUCKTOWN — There were few reasons why Chris Talley would have considered leaving his job as head boys basketball coach at Owen J. Roberts. But when the same position opened up at Spring-Ford, the opportunity to coach at his alma mater was just too hard to ignore.

The 2001 Spring-Ford graduate applied for the job, was officially approved by the school board in late September, and will be guiding the Rams when the season starts this weekend.

That left an opening at Owen J. Roberts, one that Kevin Kirby was more than happy to fill. He'll start his second stint as head coach of the Wildcats when the OJR squad also hits the court later this week.

The other coaching change in the area occurred at Upper Perkiomen, where Jared Krupp, a junior high coach for the Tribe for the past four seasons, takes over for Bruce Schmidt.

"It was just one of those things,' said Talley, who was 10-34 in two seasons at OJR. "It was pretty much the only position I'd consider leaving Owen J. Roberts for. Being a graduate and an assistant there and my kids going there, it was a unique opportunity I thought I needed to pursue.'

Talley was a part of the 2000 Rams team that won the Pioneer Athletic Conference championship under Dave Caldwell, graduated from Alvernia University, assisted there one year and at Spring-Ford for one, and was head man at Owen J. Roberts for the past two seasons.

Talley and his staff haven't had a lot of time to work with the team, but they started open gyms right away in September and have been working hard to implement their system.

"The youth program, the leadership and vision they have — in my opinion — is second to none,' said Talley. "It's a good relationship. I'm fortunate to have walked into that.

"We have a lot of seniors. We have a good returning core. We're trying to adapt to a new system on the fly.'

Matt Kurtz, who played with Talley at Spring-Ford and was an assistant for him at Owen J. Roberts, will be one of the assistant coaches. Dan Hoff, a St. Pius X graduate who was ninth grade coach at Pope John Paul II, will be the other assistant and also coach the JV team.

"Our coaching staff has similar philosophies, but we also have our own flairs,' added Talley, who is a teacher at Upper Providence Elementary. "We're familiar with the Spring-Ford program. We're proud of the Spring-Ford program.'

Kirby brings 17 years of basketball coaching experience back to Owen J. Roberts, where he was head coach during the 2010-2011 season. He stepped down after just the one season due to having a one-year-old at home and another child on the way.

"I've always kind of been looking,' said Kirby, who was an assistant at Great Valley for three years, assisted Ted Snyder at OJR for eight years, and was a boys basketball volunteer assistant at Great Valley the last two seasons. "Basketball is a love of mine.

"We live in the district now. It's nights, weekends, and it's the off-season. But we're only five minutes away now instead of 20. The kids are a little bit older now and I have the support of my wife (Jackie). Obviously, when an opportunity opened up, I jumped at it.'

Kirby, who teaches seventh grade math in the district, has also been the Wildcats' head softball coach since 2004 and an assistant golf coach since 2006. He welcomes the opportunity to once again coach this year's seniors who were freshmen during his first stint.

"It means something to me to finish with the seniors,' he added. "I'm just really, really excited.'

Ryan King, who had been the OJR eighth grade coach, will be an assistant and coach the jayvee squad. Bob Heck — who has experience as head coach at Phoenixville, as girls assistant with the Wildcats, and at Gwynedd Mercy College — will be the other assistant. Kirby brings experience from three years ago when the Wildcats finished at 4-18, but suffered two setbacks at the buzzer and another that went right down to the wire against eventual PAC-10 champion PJP.

"A lot of what you have to deal with isn't basketball. ... planning the schedule, outlining your objectives and what you want to accomplish,' Kirby added. "I have all that saved from before. Some worked and some didn't.

"The kids have been working really hard and I'm excited to be working with a group of great kids.'

At Upper Perkiomen, Krupp will be the fourth coach in four years for the Indians, who went 0-13 in PAC-10 play and 4-18 overall last year.

"We want to become a more competitive team in the PAC-10,' Krupp said. "We believe with the work and effort that we have put in during the offseason, and our commitment to playing hard-working, selfless basketball, we will see more success than in previous years.'