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There's no way to sugarcoat it. The departure of Tim Hibbs as William Penn football coach -- less than a week before the start of fall practice -- is a lose-lose for pretty much every party involved.

It's a shame for Hibbs, who resigned because his teaching job was furloughed last month and now will never get a chance to leave his stamp on the William Penn program. At media day last year, Hibbs said his goal was to turn the Bearcats into a nationally recognized program. He never got a real chance to turn his vision -- lofty though it might have been -- into reality.

On Monday, Hibbs called the decision to resign "absolutely devastating."

It's a shame for the administrators at William Penn -- those who had nothing to do with the furloughs -- who are left scrambling for a replacement to try and salvage this season.

And most of all, it's a shame for the Bearcats players, who have been forced to watch their season spiral into uncertainty before it even began.

But regardless, those players and this program can only sit stuck in neutral for so long. There will be a 2010 football season at William Penn, and fair-or-not, it's up to the current players and coaches to make the best of their situation.

One thing that could help the Bearcats is their early-season schedule.

Let's examine the William Penn's first five games of 2010:

9/3, vs. Reading, 7 p.m.

9/10, vs. J.P. McCaskey, 7 p.m.

9/18, at Harrisburg, 1 p.m.

9/24, vs. Northeastern, 7 p.m.

10/1, at Dover, 7 p.m.

Of those five teams, only Harrisburg finished .500 last year (5-5). Reading and Northeastern both ended up 4-6. J.P. McCaskey and Dover finished 1-9 and 0-10, respectively.

None of which is to say that five-game stretch will be a breeze. But let's face it, the Bearcats are going to be under the gun to get ready for this season. The new coach (who is expected to be named Wednesday night) will have a little more than three weeks to work with before the first game. And while a trip to Harrisburg will be tough and Reading is far from a gimme, you could see William Penn emerging from those first five games 4-1 (and at worst, 3-2) heading into its YAIAA Division I schedule, when matters figure to get trickier.

Point being, if you're the next William Penn coach, you'd like to get a few wins under your belt before you enter the tougher half of your schedule. Perhaps this schedule allows them to do that.

Of course, this is all hearsay until the season starts and we get a truer sense of these teams. And William Penn fans no doubt remember the arc of the 2009 season, when their team started 6-0 and finished 0-5.

But who knows. Maybe William Penn gathers some momentum in those first few weeks. And maybe, despite an ill-timed coaching change, the Bearcats can conjure up a successful season after all.

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