After 25 years as head coach at South Western, football legend Don Seidenstricker's...
Eight years ago, the South Western and Dallastown football teams were locked in one of their annual, heated YAIAA battles. In the final minute, the Wildcats — under third-year head coach Kevin Myers — stunned the Mustangs, who were coming off two division titles in three years, by marching 96 yards down the field and kicking the game-winning field goal.
In a classy move, the Mustangs' head coach walked into the opposing locker room and congratulated Myers and the upstart Wildcats on an impressive victory.
That's Don Seidenstricker — a class act.
"That was one of the classiest things I've ever seen a coach do," Myers said. "That's Don. That's who he is."
Seidenstricker, who racked up a 196-90-1 record in 25 years manning the South Western sideline, will be honored by his peers with an induction into the Pennsylvania Scholastic Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame on June 20.
"If you coach football in Pennsylvania, there is no higher honor," said Central York head coach Brad Livingston, who has competed against and worked with Seidenstricker for three decades. "Don is accepting his rightful place among the best of the best."
Seidenstricker, a 1974 graduate of Hanover High School, was hired at South Western High School right out of college in 1978 and has remained there as the athletic director for 37 years.
He remembers his first day on the job back in 1978, when he was the head coach for the seventh and eighth grade team but got to work with the varsity staff on his first day.
"It (the Hall of Fame induction) wasn't something I ever thought would happen back then," Seidenstricker joked. "You don't think about it or expect it. You do the job for one reason and that's because you love the kids and the game."
The Mustangs dominated the league with Seidenstricker at the helm, winning YAIAA division titles 13 times in Seidenstricker's 25 seasons. He also took home Coach of the Year honors 10 times.
"Competing against a Seidenstricker-coached South Western team was always a challenge," said Livingston, who described Seidenstricker as meticulous, well-prepared and inspiring. "His teams played hard, smart football. His teams were determined to outhit you and win every play. If you were not up to the challenge, you were going to get embarrassed."
Seidenstricker, who also coached basketball and track and field, stepped away from football after the 2011 season but remained the school's athletic director.
He hand-picked fellow East Stroudsburg University-grad Damian Poalucci to replace him.
"I couldn't have asked for a better mentor as a young coach," said Poalucci, who coached under Seidenstricker for more than 10 years before taking the head coaching job. "We're friends more than we're coaches together, and I've always appreciated the mentor aspect of our relationship."
One of Seidenstricker's strengths, Poalucci said, is his willingness to help another coach.
"He's a true Mustang, but he's also a true football guy," Poalucci said. "He's always willing to guide younger coaches and that's why everyone has a great amount of respect for him."
Seidenstricker credits his high school coach and fellow Hall of Famer Jack Connor, and his predecessor at South Western, John Quashnoc — both local football legends — with helping guide him during his early days as a young coach.
Quashnoc will be the one inducting Seidenstricker during the Hall of Fame ceremony in front of his family, friends and former players.
What's he doing to celebrate after the induction ceremony?
Going to one of his former player's wedding that evening.
That's Don Seidenstricker — a class act.
During his tenure at South Western, Don Seidenstricker has put together an impressive coaching resume. From 1986-2011 he compiled:
— A record of 196-90-1
— 13 YAIAA Championships
— Two PIAA playoff appearances
— 10 District 3 playoff appearances
— 10 Coach of the Year awards
— Coached 68 eventual collegiate players
In 25 years as the head coach at South Western High School, Don Seidenstricker had plenty of memories to reflect on. He chose the three that stood out most:
1990 vs. Delone Catholic: "In those days, Delone played in the Blue Mountain League and we played an 11-game season with the final game being an exhibition. That year, our last game was against Delone, and we were both undefeated, both league champions, and both headed to districts. We played at South Western and at least 7,000 people were there. The atmosphere was one of the best I've ever seen. We won, 10-8."
2000 semifinal playoff game vs. Reading: "The AAAA playoffs only had four teams in the bracket back then, so one win and you're in the title game. We beat Reading, 35-28, in a great game, and it made us the first team from the YAIAA to ever make the AAAA title game."
2006 playoffs: "Manheim Central had won 14 district titles in 16 years or something like that. We played at South Western in the AAA semifinals and we beat them. It was probably the loudest I've ever heard the Corral."
During Don Seidenstricker's tenure, the Corral at South Western evolved into one of the toughest places in the league for opponents to play.
Here are some comments on playing at the Corral:
"It's such a tough place to play and there's so much energy. There's something about going there. I don't know what it is, but until recently, we had no success down there." — Kevin Myers, Dallastown
"We take pride in protecting our field and playing well at home. Going undefeated at home is something Don and I both strived to do. That's just an attitude we have." — Damian Poalucci, South Western
"We had a heck of home win streak through the 90s. I don't know why it was intimidating except we have always been fortunate to have great home crowds. When you come down, you step down into a bowl and the atmosphere is always fun. One of our teams had a motto, 'We're the reason you're afraid of the dark.'"— Seidenstricker