Eastern York's new coach embraces 'dream come true'
After two seasons and a winning record, Dave Kemmick was not brought back to the Eastern York sidelines.
That opened the door for Jeff Mesich to fulfill a lifelong aspiration and become a varsity head coach.
"To me, this was a dream come true, and hopefully I do a good job for the kids and they leave here having learned something," Mesich said.
Mesich is already impacting the Golden Knights players.
"He's wanted us to compete no matter what the circumstances are," senior Wyatt Smith said. "He is really stressing to us to be a better individuals instead of just being a better football player, because once your a better person, you can take it further than just the football field."
Mesich spent five years as an assistant at Northeastern and two years as an assistant at two schools in the Pittsburgh area before getting his first head coaching gig at Eastern.
"I think being a coordinator on either side of the ball will help you when you go to the other side," Mesich said. "You're going to know what that other person is trying to set up. You have to understand how that chess match works."
"The closer we are to a 50/50 (run and pass balance), the more successful we will be," said Mesich, who will also be the team's offensive coordinator after serving as the Bobcats defensive coordinator. "I'm an analytics guy, so I like looking at what we are best at and what the other team is weakest at, and putting our kids in a position to have one-on-one battles to win."
Quarterback: Sophomores Seth Bernstein and Zach Grove will battle for the job. Bernstein, a starting tight end a year ago, brings the varsity experience. One of them will be replacing Ryan Kalke, who threw for just 331 yards and three touchdowns.
"Zach is more of a thrower and is a good athlete, just not the same kind of athlete that Seth is," Mesich said. "So, depending on who wins the job, we could be different offensively."
Running backs: The Golden Knights' bread and butter over the years has been their rushing attack. Keegan Corwell and Logan Kline will spearhead the latest stable of Eastern running backs. Kline's 676 rushing yards led the team last season, and the junior will form a thunder and lightning duo with Corwell, who is returning from an injury.
"They bring two different skill sets and abilities," Mesich said. "We are working on ways to get them both on the field at the same time."
Receivers: Bernstein led this group with 194 receiving yards last year. This season, sophomore Demonte Martin, junior Jahshim Snyder and senior Tyler Winters will lead this group.
Offensive line: Wyatt Smith and Kevin Royce at tackle return to anchor the line.
"Kevin looks like a prototypical offensive tackle. He's a big kid with long arms and has really impressed us over the summer," Mesich said.
Defensive line: Mesich said he likes the versatility of Smith, Royce and Landon Mapstone, who can all play the tackle or end position. Smith finished with 47 total tackles and five sacks last year.
Linebackers: Corwell and junior Brennen Shenk will head up this group. Shenk finished with 66 total tackles last season.
"Brennen has a chance to be one of the leading tacklers in the York-Adams league," Mesich said. "He's a really good athlete and has a nose for the football."
Jimmy Kurnik, who had five interceptions last season, returns to anchor this group. Snyder and Kline will also see time in the back end of the defense.
"We have six or seven kids with an opportunity to play in the secondary," Mesich said.
A Golden Knights soccer player will probably end up with the kicking duties.
"I have a pretty good relationship with the soccer coach and soccer team, and there are some kids coming to try out during the fall camp. We had great success with that at Northeastern and I look forward to the same thing at Eastern," Mesich said.
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Save the date
For the first time in at least a dozen years, the Golden Knights don't start their season with Columbia. Instead, they get Lampeter-Strasburg.
"It's an exciting opportunity for us," Mesich said of playing L-S, which was a quarterfinalist in the District 3 Class AAA tournament last year. "They are one of the best programs in District 3. It's what we aspire to be and I couldn't really ask for a better first game of my head coaching career."
The Golden Knights don't get to play at home until the third week of the season. By then, they hope to have worked out some wrinkles of a new offensive system.
In the huddle
Head coach: Jeff Mesich (first season) (OC)
Assistant coaches: Tommy Hinkle (DC), Gary Ishman, Gerald Waltemyer, Adam Smith
Class: 3A, YAIAA Division II
Enrollment: 522 total (282 male)
Defense: 4-4, 4-3
Sept. 2 — Eastern York at Lampeter-Strasburg, 7 p.m.
Sept. 10 — Eastern York at York County Tech, 1 p.m.
Sept. 16 — Littlestown at Eastern York, 7 p.m.
Sept. 23 — Eastern York at West York, 7 p.m.
Sept. 30 — Dover at Eastern York, 7 p.m.
Oct. 7 — Eastern York at Gettysburg, 7 p.m.
Oct. 14 — Eastern York at Susquehannock, 7 p.m.
Oct. 21 — Kennard-Dale at Eastern York, 7 p.m.
Oct. 28* — Central Martinsburg at Eastern York, 7 p.m.
Nov. 4 — York Suburban at Eastern York, 7 p.m.
W // Columbia // 24-0
W // York County Tech // 19-12
L // @ Hanover // 6-13
L // West York // 21-42
L // @ Dover // 6-7
W // Gettysburg // 33-3
L // Susquehannock // 20-42
L // @ Kennard-Dale // 14-18
W // @ Pine Grove // 48-0
L // @ York Suburban // 7-30