New Spring Grove High School football head coach ready for 'challenge' that awaits him
- Spring Grove High School has hired a new head football coach.
- Will Thompson will take over the Rockets program. He coached in Carroll County, Maryland, last year.
- Thompson will take over for Kyle Sprenkle, who went 10-2 in his final season at Spring Grove.
Opportunity doesn’t always come knocking, but when it does you have to answer the door.
Will Thompson wasn’t looking to leave his head coaching job in Caroll County, Maryland, where he had spent the last three years with Francis Scott Key High School.
Then the job at Spring Grove High School opened up when Kyle Sprenkle resigned to spend more time with his large family. Francis Scott Key and Spring Grove are just more than 30 miles apart.
For Thompson, Spring Grove presented an enticing opportunity. Then, after seeing how seriously the Spring Grove coaches, players and administrators were about having a good football program, Thompson decided it was too good of an opportunity to pass up.
Thompson was approved by the Spring Grove school board as the new Rockets head coach last week at a yearly stipend of $4,988. The Rockets are coming off a 10-2 season last year, including two District 3 Class 5-A playoff wins, which was the first time that happened in program history.
Thompson knows he has some big shoes to fill.
“Sprenkle did a great job with the success that happened last year. I want to take the momentum and keep pushing this team forward,” he said.
Success didn't happen overnight for Sprenkle. Spring Grove’s former head coach only won four games from 2017 to 2019 and COVID-19 shortened the season in 2020, with the Rockets finishing at 4-3. It might take Thomas a similar time to adjust to his new role at a much larger program than the one he came from.
Like Sprenkle, Thompson took over a losing program (nine straight losing seasons) at Francis Scott Key, but had them in the postseson by his third season. FSK was 3-7, 1-4 and then 7-4 under Thompson, reaching the second round of the Maryland playoffs in 2021.
It's a step up: The Virginia native hasn’t spent much time in Pennsylvania but knows how serious football is in this state.
“It’s a step up in terms of responsibility. The school is bigger, Spring Grove is bigger. The level of competition is much higher. I’m willing to take on the challenge and push forward and run from there,” Thompson said.
Thompson says winning is important, but his goal is to first to instill in his players the necessary skills needed to succeed in life.
“Wins and losses matter, but the No. 1 goal I want is to teach this young team the values to be successful in life. I want them to be the best young people they can be. Utilize football as a tool for life success,” he said.
More resources: Whereas Thompson had access to very few resources at his previous jobs, he has state-of-the-art equipment at Spring Grove, including a turf field, and doesn’t have to spend time drawing the lines on his football field.
Thompson will soon get together for the first time with his players, but has been excited by the expertise of his coaching staff. He plans to retain the same coaching staff as his predecessor and begin his offseason program in the next few weeks.
Thompson is a 2007 graduate of Charlottesville High School in Virginia and played defensive back at NCAA Division III Bridgewater College. He took a coaching position in his home state at Fort Defiance High School after leaving college.
A special education teacher at Francis Scott Key, Thompson said he hopes to find a full-time position at Spring Grove. In Maryland, he ran a pass-heavy offense but isn’t quite sure of what approach he will take with his new team just yet.
“We are looking to build on the type of players that we have. Multiple type offense. We are going to find out what works well. We are player-driven and I rely on the players. I want them to buy into what we are doing. The relationships are stronger when they know I'm not a dictator and we are all in this together,” he said.
Spring Grove graduated several key players last year and will move forward with a much younger squad than they've had the last few years. Spring Grove's senior class this past fall included 2,000-yard running back Zyree Brooks, star linebacker Darien Osmun and three starting offensive linemen.
Andrew Osmun will be a key: The team does have some returning talent, including dual-threat quarterback and safety Andrew Osmun, who has gotten recruiting attention from several NCAA Division I programs. Thompson said he has big plans for Osmun and is already developing ways to utilize him on both sides of the ball.
“Osmun is going to be a big key," Thompson said. "I’m looking for him to have a great year. We want to use him all over the offense and get involved. Wildcat quarterback and use him at running back and wide receiver. Safety, he plays aggressively and has a nose for the football. Ideally, we get him 15-20 touches a game.”
Wants to build a rapport with the community: Thompson said he hopes to build a rapport with the Spring Grove community and let them know he is here for the right reasons.
“We are all in this together. We (the team) represent the community,” he said.
The newly appointed coach says he knows he has to trust the process and he will stay measured for his first year.
“We want to win. We will look to be highly competitive," he said. "I want to be in the games and the approach and details and the little things, like effort and attitude, are going to get us over the hump. We will push forward. We have to stay competitive.”
— Reach Dante Green at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @TaySean14.