After directing Biglerville High to its first District 3 title in boys' soccer in 2009, Canner head coach Rob Moore resigned from his position atop the program after seven years at the helm.
His replacement was Jebb Nelson, Moore's right-hand man for the previous seven seasons.
In Nelson's first two years on the job, the Canners were bounced from the district tournament in the quarterfinals each year, and this year were faced with beating York Catholic, a team that had beaten them for the YAIAA Division III title, to reach the semifinals.
Biglerville not only beat the Fighting Irish, but it also took down top-seeded Trinity in the semifinals before falling to Greenwood in the district title match.
That earned the Canners their fourth trip to the PIAA Class A tournament in the past 10 years, where they won a pair of matches before losing to Sewickley Academy in the state semifinals.
After guiding his alma mater on the deepest run it has ever made, Nelson was the easy choice as the All-Area Coach of the Year for 2012.
"We knew we had a talented group, and we knew that we had the ability to reach the district final," Nelson said. "It's never a given, but the talent was definitely there."
The Canners tied York Catholic, 1-1, the first time the sides met, then lost to the Irish, 2-1, the second time. In the district quarters, Biglerville dominated from start to finish, winning the match 2-0 and holding York Catholic to two shots
Next up was Trinity, and the Canners defeated the Shamrocks, 3-0, by scoring all three goals on redirects following throw-ins by Nate Fox. The defense once again came up large i as it held Trinity to two shots on goal.
"Our defense really stepped up this year and shut down some quality teams," Nelson said. "The way they stopped York Catholic and Trinity was surprising."
In all, the Canners posted 10 shutouts in their 26 matches, and Nelson gives credit to assistant coach Jose Reyes for the drills that he has brought to the program since joining the coaching staff in 2011. Nelson also credits Moore with building the foundation of the program that he oversees today.
"I started coaching with Rob in 2001 when we were both assistants under Derek Cuthbert," he said. "Rob provided a very good foundation to work with. We've tweaked a few things since he left, a couple of drills and formations, but we still use most of it."
Nelson marks the seventh time the Coach of the Year has been awarded to a Biglerville head coach in the 22 years of the award's existence. He has compiled a 45-19-4 record in his time running the Canners.
Part of what Moore brought to the program was the eagerness to take on a high-quality schedule and play top-notch competition regardless of the size of the opponent. Nelson has continued that tradition, as his squad faced off with four schools from Classes AA and AAA during the regular season that qualified for the district tournament.
The Canners lost to Gettysburg, Boiling Springs, Greencastle-Antrim and Central York. They also faced and beat larger schools Red Land and Waynesboro.
"We could load up our schedule with easier teams, have a great record and be at the top of the district rankings," Nelson said. "But we like to play tough teams to get ready for the playoffs. We aren't afraid to lose games as long as we learn from them and get better."
In years past, the Canners were known for having one or two big guns offensively that supplied most of the goals. That wasn't the case this year as five players scored at least nine goals with Harley Weigle pacing the team with 16 markers. Mario Ortega added 12 and Cesar Morales, Koby Griest and Fox each pocketed nine.
"This year we were definitely a team. We didn't rely on individual talent to win games for us," Nelson said. "Our scoring was well spread, and teams weren't able to focus on one or two guys to shut us down. When you have that variety, that makes you tough."