Steve Navaroli: Offseason brought onslaught of head coaching changes in YAIAA
The first coaching vacancy in the YAIAA football league came before the 2014 season ended, yet despite that ominous sign, no one could have foreseen the onslaught of openings that would follow during the offseason.
But, when Russ Stoner resigned his head coaching job at Spring Grove, making the announcement during the final week of the Rockets regular season, it set a tone that continued for the next nine months.
In all, more than one-third of the league's football teams ended up with a new head coach this past offseason.
The coaching carousel really got started in late November when West York's Ron Miller shocked the YAIAA football world by stepping down, causing a trickle down effect at another league school.
Replacing Miller with the Bulldogs was his former offensive coordinator Jeremy Jones, although that created an opening at York Suburban, where Jones had been the head coach for the previous two seasons.
Andy Loucks, a former Trojans assistant, who had a four-year stint as the head coach at Kennard-Dale that ended after the 2013 season, was tabbed to take over at Suburban.
In mid-December, Eric Lam stepped down after two years at Dover. The school stayed in the Eagles' family with its hire. Dover grad Wayne Snelbaker , another assistant under Miller with the Bulldogs, was hired as head coach in March, and Snelbaker brought his brothers, Jim and Dan, on board as assistants.
Another change in Division II created an additional opening when JC Lewis stepped down after only one year at Susquehannock. That job was filled by veteran Steve Wiles, who left Delone Catholic. Staying in house, Squires assistant and Delone grad Corey Zortman took over for Wiles.
Spring Grove waited until after the new year to make its hire, tabbing former Rocket player Kyle Sprenkle as the next head coach.
At New Oxford, Jason Thurston resigned June 11, and two weeks later, Colonials assistant Jason Warner took over as interim head coach.
Former York County Tech assistant Brian Hanson got a late start in taking over the Spartans program in July when it was announced that Matt Glennon would not return.
Whew. Take a breath.
South Western coach Damian Poalucci, who is entering his fourth season as head coach, and 18th overall on the Mustangs staff, said that turnover is reflective of the times.
"There's so many things that go into it now. That's not to say that 20 years ago it was easy, it's a different time now," he said. "It's become a full-time job. You have to do it because that's just the way it should be. Some guys burn out quick."
At least Brad Livingston remains in place at Central York. The dean of area coaches is entering his 34th season at the Panthers' helm. Next in line is Jon DeFoe at Bermudian Springs, who will open his 17th season as head coach for the Eagles.
"The reality is every situation is uniquely different than another. Though there are similarities, but you never know what dynamics are in play," DeFoe said of so many openings. "I am thankful and fortunate to be in a place that's very supportive.
"There is a lot of external pressures. Until you walk in the shoes, it's hard to explain to someone. I don't think you are going to see many more like Brad Livingston or (former Cumberland Valley coach) Tim Rimpfel — those 30-year guys."