Eight new YAIAA coaches introduced at football media day
With smiles as wide as their offensive lines, rival football coaches Jesse Shay and Damian Poalucci tried to one-up the other.
Shay kidded Poalucci about South Western being favored to win Division I of the YAIAA. "Everyone came to see them," Shay said. Poalucci downplayed the sentiment by poking fun at Red Lion's larger enrollment.
Although neither coach has led his school for more than three seasons, Shay and Poalucci are quickly becoming veterans in the league. Eight of the 23 schools bring new coaches into the upcoming season, and they all met Monday at the York Daily Record/Sunday News offices for YAIAA Media Day.
Some aren't new to the league, having coached elsewhere. That's the case with West York's Jeremy Jones, York Suburban's Andy Loucks and Susquehannock's Steve Wiles. Three new coaches — Dover's Wayne Snelbaker, Delone Catholic's Corey Zortman and Spring Grove's Kyle Sprenkle — are taking over their alma maters as first-time head coaches.
"It's something special," said Snelbaker, a 1990 Dover grad who spent the last four years coaching linemen at rival West York.
In a way, coaching turnover had a musical chairs feel to it this offseason. When Ron Miller resigned as West York's football coach, his former offensive coordinator in Jones left York Suburban to take that job. That created an opening filled at Suburban by Loucks, who previously stopped at Kennard-Dale and spent last season as an assistant for Franklin & Marshall College. Meanwhile, Wiles took over the Susquehannock job a few months after resigning from Delone Catholic. After starting at Hanover, this will be his third stop around the YAIAA.
"Unfortunately in today's world, coaching is such an overturned I don't want to say here today, gone tomorrow, but it just seems like everything else," Snelbaker said. "You're here for a short time and you move on."
Despite the turnover, the rivalries remain strong. Snelbaker has learned that lesson in his time at neighboring schools. He and West York's Jones traded barbs from across the room about how they dressed and got in each other's way during their time as assistants for the Bulldogs.
MAILMAN'S DECISION LOOMS >> York Suburban senior Collin Mailman had the most catches and yards last year among the league's returning receivers, but football is not his No. 1 sport.
Lacrosse is where his future resides. A week ago, he helped York County win lacrosse gold at the Keystone State Games. York Catholic senior Luke Brennan, who also attended football media day, played with Mailman on the victorious lacrosse squad.
A 6-footer with wavy blonde hair, Mailman's list of interested schools for lacrosse is stacked: Richmond, Towson, Drexel, Lehigh and Georgetown.
"I was getting looked at by Maryland for a little bit," Mailman said. "I'm going to have to make a decision pretty soon. With the early recruiting for lacrosse, spots are kind of limited."
That decision should come "in the next week or so," he said.
KIDS KEEP HIM YOUNG >> Fairfield coach Darwin Seiler will readily admit to being one of the elder statesmen of his peers in the business. Yet at media day, few smiled as much he did. He loves coaching and said he is especially enjoying his time with the Green Knights as he enters his fourth season there.
"These guys keep me young," he said, pointing to Matt Petrie and Aaron Moore.
Seiler, who spent 17 years in two separate stints at Waynesboro, added that Fairfield is the perfect fit for this stage of his career.
VETERANS HELPING SPRING GROVE'S TRANSITION >> The Spring Grove Rockets arrived at media day with a new coach, a new helmet decal to show off and plenty of optimism.
New coach Kyle Sprenkle, who was with the program as the freshman coach in 2012, said the team's transition has been smooth.
"We've got a good group of core guys that have had some varsity experience and it's making my job a little bit easier, relying on some of the veteran leadership that we have," he said.
Senior kicker Andrew Luckenbaugh and senior running back and linebacker Nick Erickson attended media day with Sprenkle, both lauding the way things came together in the offseason with their new coach.
"It's great to have a fresh start to the season," Erickson said. "There's definitely new terminology that we're learning, but I feel like since we've been doing it since winter, we're really learning the offense, really learning the defense. It will be a good season."
They're also excited about their new helmets, which feature the word "Rockets" on both sides in script lettering. The rest of the uniform remains the same.
"It's classy," Erickson said. "We still look like the Giants, though."
TURF EXPECTATIONS >> Bermudian Springs will debut a new turf field this season, and the Eagles aren't the only ones excited to play on it.
The $2.25 million project to renovate the Eagles' field is almost done, and Division III opponents are excited by the pictures they have seen.
It made an easy choice when players voted for their favorite stadium.
"I know Bermudian got a new turf put in, so it should be fun to play there," Littlestown senior Jesse Lemon said.
"It's Bermudian now that they have turf," Biglerville senior Scott Cooper said.
The new turf was even a topic among coaches.
"I hope we're next," Biglerville coach Alex Ramos said of wanting the playing surface for his team.
RELOAD OR REBUILD? >> No team in the league returns fewer starters than Bermudian Springs. The Eagles bring back just one player: Logan Luckenbaugh.
A year removed from an 11-1 season, Eagles fans will have to check their programs to recognize some of the new faces in the starting lineup. Luckily for them, names will be on the back of Bermudian Springs jerseys.
Despite the turnover in personnel, coach Jon DeFoe said expectations are the same.
"Will we look a little different as a team? Yes, we probably won't be as explosive," he said. "But for us, it comes back to playing good defense, first and foremost. We still have the same expectations, we just might get there in a different way."
DeFoe's biggest concern is in the trenches. Luckenbaugh returns as a starter on the offensive line, but after him, the other starting spots are a question mark.
"We're more concerned with putting a line together that can make production from the skill positions possible," DeFoe said. "The line is going to look a lot different physically than last year. It'll be anchored by Luckenbaugh, then some other guys who are going to be competing."
COME SEE THE MUSTANGS >> With expectations higher than they have been in recent years at The Corral, a line of reporters waited to talk to South Western's contingent during the Division I session.
"Teams are going to have the target on us now, which is the position you want to be in," coach Damian Poalucci said. "We do have a lot coming back and the expectations are high, so it's a matter of making sure we don't let the highs get too high and the lows get too low. My biggest thing is that no one is going to give you anything."
From last year's 5-5 squad, the Mustangs bring back eight starters on offense, including their quarterback Brock Geiman, top receiver Noah Staub, who recently committed to Towson University, and their top four rushers.
"We haven't earned anything yet," Geiman said. "We went .500 last year, so we have to prove something before anything else matters."
FASHION SHOW >> A handful of schools brought new helmets. Central York coach Brad Livingston showcased an orange lid with a white paw print on the side.
"It looks just like Clemson," senior quarterback Nik Strine said.
"That's why we chose it," lineman Zane Santos added.
Meanwhile, William Penn kept a similar design but tweaked its color scheme. The Bearcats went from a blue helmet with an orange "Y" — for "York High" — to a white helmet with a blue "Y."
The Bearcats' new lids resemble the college helmet of Auburn.
"That's what our whole team keeps saying," William Penn linebacker Nykam Beverly said. "With our away uniform, everything's white."
Central also will switch to white pants, which marks two of the most drastic aesthetic alterations. Livingston has switched helmet designs numerous times in the last decade, including a "C" on the side to various forms of paw prints, a Panther head and, finally, a blend of colors from orange to black.
Others have made small changes to the decals on their helmets.
Northeastern updated its jerseys to include tiger stripes near the shoulder sleeve. The look resembles the Cincinnati Bengals, which linebacker Gary Gobernik said has been the comparison drawn by most who see them.
The jersey change is Northeastern's first since it became a varsity program in 2008.