Kirby Brubaker eager to take reins as Northeastern football coach

Ryan Vandersloot
For The York Dispatch

The dreams of one day becoming a head coach were planted in the head of Kirby Brubaker during his high school years at South Western.

Helping his father coach youth baseball as a 16-year-old, Brubaker figured out quickly that he enjoyed coaching.

Since his football playing days with the Mustangs  — where he played under legendary head coach Don Seidenstricker — Brubaker has spent the past two-plus decades coaching on the gridiron. 

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The past six of those seasons have been as a defensive coordinator at Northeastern High School under Jon Scepanski.

That number likely would have reached seven had fate not intervened when Scepanski informed his coaches and players in early May that he was leaving the Bobcat program to take over as the new head coach at Conestoga Valley.

Long-awaited opportunity: That presented Brubaker with an opportunity he had sought  ever since he began his football coaching career — a chance to lead his own program.

Northeastern defensive coordinator Kirby Brubaker leads a defensive practice at the school Tuesday, Aug. 27. Bill Kalina photo

The dream became  reality Monday as Brubaker was approved by the Northeastern School Board as the Bobcats new head football coach.

“Around the beginning of May is when Jon told us about accepting the position at Conestoga Valley,” Brubaker said. “So around that time Jon kind of receded from the program and I stepped up to kind of lead the program until a new head coach was chosen.”

The timing of Scepanski’s decision was less than ideal, as spring and summer workouts were right around the corner. Brubaker, however, appreciated Scepanski’s address to the team about its future without him at the helm.

“Jon just kind of said to the team to make sure that (the coaching change) isn’t a reason that we change our expectations for the season,” Brubaker said. “Our expectations are always going to be high, and just because the schedule is a little more truncated and things are made a little more difficult, make sure that isn’t a reason to change your level of expectations moving forward.”

'Great energy': Brubaker, a science teacher in the district at the middle school, has been  pleased with the response he’s seen from his program over the past five weeks. Participation remains high as does motivation among  players in the program.

“We’ve had great participation throughout the offseason,” Brubaker said. “A lot of great energy on the field and in the weight room. So, it’s been great. It’s been a really good offseason so far.”

While this will be Brubaker’s first time as the head coach of a varsity-level program, he’s grown as an assistant coach over the years under the leadership of some of the area’s best coaches. He spent two years at Eastern York under Jeff Shutter before heading over to Dallastown, where he learned under Kevin Myers. 

Before joining the Northeastern staff six years ago, he was the offensive coordinator at Eastern York when his brother, Richard Brubaker, was the team’s head coach back in 2011-12.

“I think I was lucky to work under some really good coaches that helped prepare me for the workload (of being a head coach),” Brubaker said. “When I was a coordinator, I was given autonomy to run the defense or offense the way I wanted to run them. Jon was great as a mentor and he really took the time to answer questions and show me the bigger aspects of program and things like that.”

Double duty this fall: That time as the offensive coordinator at Eastern will prove handy, as Brubaker intends to be both the head coach and OC this fall.

“I really enjoyed being the offensive coordinator,” Brubaker said. “I was the OC when Alex Cooley was a senior, and that was a fun year. Even though I’ve spent most of my time on the defensive side of the ball, it really helped give me a good perspective when I was an offensive coordinator because I know as a defensive coordinator the kinds of things that are difficult for a defense and what things you can try to do to disrupt the defense.”