BLOG: A look at the six new head football coaches
If there's one thing that's become apparent within the York-Adams League, it's that the days of the long-tenured football coaches are becoming a thing of the past.
With Central York firing Brad Livingston last winter after 34 years, the longest-tenured coach for one school within the league is Jon DeFoe at Bermuidan Springs. This will be his 18th season coaching the Eagles.
While the lack of longevity among coaches is certainly a topic of conversation, perhaps more noticeable is the number of new coaches being hired around the league. Between the 2014 and 2015 seasons, there were eight coaching changes in the league. That was followed by six more during this offseason.
Here is a look at each of the Y-A League's six new head coaches in 2016:
Josh Oswalt (Central York): The former Carlisle coach shouldn't have his success with the Thundering Herd measured on wins and losses.
If you did, then you'd take his 18-44 record as being very poor and ask yourself how in the world he lasted six years there.
When he arrived at Carlisle, he took over a team that won just six times between 2006-09. By the time Oswalt left the program to succeed Livingston, he turned the Thundering Herd into a playoff team, helping them get there in each of his final two seasons. And he did all of that before turning 30 years old, and at a school lacking up-to-date facilities.
Now, he's blessed with a program that has all the resources he needs at his disposal and a winning foundation in place. He won't need time to build the Panthers from scratch, but will he get the time needed to escape the large shadow cast by Livingston's legacy?
Only time will tell.
Russ Stoner (York High): Stoner is back in the Y-A League for his 21st season as a coach, but the first time he'll be on the sidelines in two years.
After spending much of his time as an assistant coach at Central York, Stoner served as the Spring Grove head coach from 2011-14, going 18-25 overall. But, much like Oswalt, when Stoner took over the Rockets in 2011, he was inheriting a project, indicative of his 1-9 first year with the team. But, progress soon followed. Spring Grove went on to win the Division I title in 2012.
With York High, Stoner will again be embarking on a rebuilding project, trying to resurrect a once-proud program from the rubble that was an 0-10 season of a year ago. He's replacing Shawn Heinold, who was 17-44 in six seasons with the Bearcats.
Helping Stoner will be the fact that York High has arguably the largest pool of pure athletes in the league. The only problem is getting them to come out for the team. The program saw its numbers drop below two dozen at times last year.
Greg Bowman (New Oxford): Bowman had all the success needed in his first year at Northern York to set himself up for a long tenure with the program.
He guided the team to an 8-4 record, including a first-round playoff win over York Suburban in the District 3-AAA playoffs. Yet, it was personal reasons that prompted him to make the change to New Oxford in the offseason and take over a struggling program that finds itself over-matched in a usually loaded Division I.
He has past experiences as an assistant coach at Central York and Lower Dauphin, but for the first time, a reasonable commute from his home to his football team awaits him. Bowman replaces Jason Warner from a year ago, making him the third coach in three years for the Colonials, but if he can duplicate any bit of the success that he had with the Polar Bears in 2015, then Bowman could bring some much-needed stability to the program.
Chris Grube (Kennard-Dale): There usually isn't a whole lot of optimism surrounding a three-win team, but when Grube was hired in the offseason on a full-time basis for the 2016 season, it brought some to the Rams community.
Grube took over K-D after four games last year as a co-coach with Eric Updegrove with the Rams sitting at 1-3. Over the course of the final six games, K-D went 2-4 and could've been 3-3 had it not suffered a 7-6 loss to Millersburg in the final game of the season. The two wins in six games matched the team's total wins under former coach Pat Weider in 14 games.
Grube doesn't have any prior head coaching experience outside of his short stint as co-interim head coach last year, but he knew that once the job came open following the end of last year, he wanted to apply, just to bring some continuity from last year to this year for the players.
The three victories in 2015 surpassed K-D's combined win total over the previous three seasons.
Jeff Mesich (Eastern York): Mesich is getting his first crack at being a head coach in high school football, but he certainly has paid his dues to get to this point.
He has a long history of being a coordinator, including working as defensive coordinator for Northeastern in 2015, a team that went 9-3 and made the District 3-AAAA quarterfinals. Mesich will actually move over the offensive side of the ball with the Golden Knights for 2016. He will bring back much of the coaching staff that was with Eastern under last year's coach, Dave Kemmick.
It will be interesting to see how much of what Mesich learned while with the Bobcats he'll carry over to the Golden Knights, a team that was just 4-6 in 2015, one year after winning seven games and making the playoffs.
Charlie Troxell (York Tech): Troxell is back for a second stint at Tech, after serving as head coach from 2002-04.
Troxell went just 2-28 his first time around with the Spartans and, honestly, things might not improve a whole lot this time. But, he's a realist, understanding that as a 6-A school that doesn't attract nearly that many athletes, his team will probably never be a playoff team.
So, he's setting his sights on other goals, like trying to improve the team's win total from a year ago, when Tech went 2-8 under Brian Hanson.
Troxell hasn't been out of the game completely since he last coached the Spartans, serving as an assistant at a couple schools.
It could be a long year for Troxell and Tech, but with more realistic goals, such as trying to get to three or four wins, Troxell could see some success, based on the team's tamed expectations.
Reach Patrick Strohecker at email@example.com.