Coach's corner: Start of season more than just X's and O's
There are 23 football coaches in the YAIAA, and 18 of them are in their fifth year or less in that position. Zach Miller - GameTimePA.com
As former head football coach at Kennard-Dale High School, I used to always look forward to the start of a new season.
The night before the season kicks off felt like the start of an exciting journey. As a head coach, one of your primary jobs is to plan and prepare how to win as many games possible. But there's a ton of other outside issues that one must deal with also.
As head coach, you're essentially wearing two hats: One as football coach, the other as administrator.
As football coach you worry about how to execute certain plays and how players are going to compete on the field. As an administrator you deal with things like how to feed the team, eligibility questions and various parent and family issues that might arise. Essentially, you carry two demanding, tough jobs at once. Each school also carries their own set of circumstances that make each job unique in itself.
Listed below are interviews we conducted with five YAIAA football coaches on how they deal with each part of the job that doesn't necessarily entail taking the field under the Friday night lights.
Red Lion coach Jesse Shay
Do you feel the program has turned the proverbial corner after going 7-3 last year?
Yeah I really do, but we still have not won a league title....Every year we want to be in a position to accomplish (that) goal.
How much time does the administrative side of being head coach take up?
During the busy time of the year it's 15 to 20 hours a week. It gets really busy during football season when you have to deal with issues like eligibility and other problems that might come up.
How much game planning do you get involved with?
I oversee both sides of the ball, but I trust both coordinators. ...They both do a very good job and they take stress off me as head coach. But it is ultimately my decision because I am the head coach, and it is my job to make final decisions.
Fairfield coach Darwin Seiler
What do you tell players since you are such a small school compared to the teams you play most weeks?
You try not to make it a crutch, and you tell your players it does not matter the size of the program. You have to play only 11 players at a time.
Do you coach differently because you’re at a smaller school and your number of football players might be less than other schools?
We organize our practices a little differently because we worry about the physical toll it takes on our players. We also recognize that our players are going to play multiple sports because we are a small school, so they will be busy with other sports sometimes.
What is the biggest difference between coaching now and when you started?
When I started 30 years ago it was seasonal. Now it has turned into a year-round football program. This includes weight lifting and everything. Also, social media has changed sports because you need to be aware of this with your players being on it so much.
Northeastern coach Jon Scepanski
What was key in going 8-2 last year?
We had a good group of players who showed great leadership....The players totally bought into what it takes to win games.
What will it take to continue that success?
We need to continue to get everyone to buy into the program. There are always ways of improving and we will continue to get better in those areas and others.
Did you realize how much time the administrative side of head coach took up when you were hired?
This is the part that I did not realize. It takes a great deal of time to get everything covered. You think back to when you were an assistant coach, and you did not have to deal with any of the administrative stuff that a head coach does.
West York coach Jeremy Jones
How do you feel about the program going into your second year at West York? How do you feel about your coaching staff?
I am ecstatic about my staff. I have a great staff and this offseason I added Shawn Heinold (former head coach at William Penn) and Mike Glennon (former head coach at York County Tech). Adding them and retaining the rest of the staff has made my job easier.
What's one of the biggest differences between last year and this year with the team?
I don’t have to worry about construction. Last year our high school was under construction and it made it difficult to do things. It was much harder to get into the weight room and to do other activities.
How do you deal with players from different backgrounds and experiences?
I think the key is to treat the kids the same, but also different. The key is to relate to each of the players on an individual basis. It also requires an ability to understand each players' backgrounds are a little different.
York Catholic coach Eric Depew
What is the biggest difference from coaching at a public high school compared to a Catholic high school?
Football is the same wherever you coach. The only issue we have is everyone is scattered across the county compared to one school district that would be close to everything.
What are your expectations for the upcoming season as the team moves from Class A to Class 2A?
First goal is to win the division. Second goal is to make championship game and third goal is to win the championship game.
How do you manage your staff? Do you get a little more involved in one side of the ball?
Most likely I get more involved on the defensive side of the ball. The staff is great. For six years I have had the same staff. We have continuity, so it has really worked with consistency across the coaching staff.