Murphy looks to lead Dallastown back to playoffs in first season: 2022 football preview

RYAN VANDERSLOOT
For The York Dispatch

Sometimes it’s difficult for older high school head coaches to relate to the young men  they are leading. New Dallastown head coach Levi Murphy won't have that problem.

At 25 years of age, Murphy becomes the youngest head coach of any program in the York-Adams League.

Age, however, is just a number. That’s something Dallastown players will bring up quickly if anyone dares to think that Murphy’s age is any sort of a drawback.

Dallastown's coach, Levi Murphy at Media Day for the local high school football teams in York on August 2, 2022.

“It’s so easy to be able to relate with him,” Dallastown senior QB Owen Strouse said. “But his age, other than connecting with him, really doesn’t even play a factor. He’s really a strong leader.”

Some of the mentality that Murphy, a Dover Area High School graduate, is looking to instill into the program is a blue-collar, lead-by-example attitude.

“We’re going to work hard, compete and do things the right way,” Strouse said. “Every day we’re going to model a blue-collar grind, where we’re just going to get after it every day.”

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'Proud to coach': Murphy, who was an assistant within the program the last two years under former coach Ron Miller, is excited for the possibilities that his squad can achieve in his first season.

“We have a ton of outstanding athletes in our football program,” Murphy said. “These are all kids that I’m proud to coach. I’m lucky that this is my first group. They’re a group of kids that have bought in without question.”

Part of what Murphy hopes his players take away from their time with him  is the importance of leadership, both on and off the field.

“We show the kids what it looks like to be a leader,” Murphy said. “What it sounds like to be a leader. What does a leader do and what does a leader not do? If they can do that as a football player and if they can do that as a young man, they’re going to go to great places in life.”

Dallastown's quaterback, Owen Strouse at Media Day for the local high school football teams in York on August 2, 2022.

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Looking ahead: One of those so-called great places that the Wildcats hope to visit is the District 3 Class 6-A football playoffs. After barely missing the cut last year, Dallastown is looking to end a three-year postseason drought.

Whether or not the Wildcats can do that figures on Strouse’s ability to get the most out of a pair of top-notch receivers in senior Kenny Johnson and sophomore Michael Scott. Johnson, who already has an offer from Penn State, caught 48 balls for 854 yards last season, while Scott finished with nearly 450 yards.

Kenny Johnson (1) during the varsity football practice for Dallastown Area High School in Dallastown on Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2022.

“It’s going to be a fun year,” said Strouse, who takes over the position after 2021 all-star Dylan Lease’s graduation.

Caleb Fox and Shamar Smith figure to provide speed from the backfield to give the Wildcats some balance offensively.

Murphy’s first season will see the rookie head coach face a pair of playoff teams in the first two weeks of the season in Hempfield and Manheim Township. 

Murphy likely has Oct. 14 circled on his calendar, as it marks his first visit to has alma mater, Dover.

Following is a capsule look at the Wildcats: 

Team: Dallastown Wildcats.

Coach: Levi Murphy, first season.

2021 record: 6-4 overall, 4-3 in York-Adams League Division I.

Key losses (Division I All-Stars in bold): Coleton Mahorney (RB), Conner Dehoff (OL/DL), Ethan Vargas (OL/DL), Dylan Lease (QB/LB), Seth Miller (C), Hunter Bisking (DT).

Key returners (Division I All-Stars in bold): Kenny Johnson (WR/DB), Michael Scott (WR), Caleb Fox (RB/OLB), Owen Strouse (QB), Jonathan Rhodes (OL/DL), Ethan Jones (WR/LB), Shamar Smith (RB/DB), Jack Mahorney (WR/LB), Ean Anciso (TE/LB).

2022 schedule (Division I games in bold): Aug. 26 at Hempfield; Sept. 2 vs. Manheim Township; Sept. 9 vs. Hershey; Sept. 16 at South Western; Sept. 23 vs. Northeastern; Sept. 30 vs. Central York; Oct. 7 at York High; Oct. 14 at Dover; Oct. 21 vs. Spring Grove; Oct. 28 at Red Lion.

Varsity football practice for Dallastown Area High School in Dallastown on Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2022.