At just 25, new Dallastown head football coach ready to work 'relentessly'

STEVE HEISER
717-505-5446/@ydsports
  • Levi Murphy, 25, has been approved as the new head varsity football coach at Dallastown.
  • Murphy was a standout lineman at Dover High School and East Stroudsburg University.
  • Murphy is a social studies teacher at Dallastown. He was the Wildcats' offensive line coach in 2021.
Levi Murphy

One word came up several times recently when Levi Murphy talked about becoming the newest varsity head football coach at Dallastown High School.

“Relentlessly.”

That’s how the 25-year-old played during  standout high school and college careers, and that’s how he plans to lead the Wildcats program. It's also how he hopes his players will compete under his watch.

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The Dover High School graduate became the youngest head coach in the York-Adams League last week when he was approved by the Dallastown Area school board to replace Ron Miller at the helm of the Wildcats program. His salary is set at $5,543.

Murphy feels he’s ready for the challenge and that his youth will be an asset in relating to his teenage players.

“My age is a strength,” Murphy said, although he did admit some surprise at becoming a varsity head coach so early in his career.

Murphy does bring some coaching experience to the table.

The Dallastown social studies teacher was a junior high football coach in the Wildcats program in 2020 and was the varsity offensive line coach for the Wildcats in 2021 under Miller. Dallastown is coming off a 6-4 season in 2021 and was 14-22 in four seasons under Miller, who resigned recently for personal reasons.

More:Dallastown High School posts opening for head football coach

The Dallastown offensive line was a strength under Murphy in 2021. Senior tackles Conner Dehoff and Ethan Vargas were York-Adams Division I first-team all-stars, while senior center Seth Miller was a second-team pick.

Murphy will have to replace those three stalwarts next season, along with quarterback/linebacker Dylan Lease, who was a first-team D-I all-star on defense, and 1,000-yard rusher Coleton Mahorney.

Looking ahead: Murphy should, however, return some significant skill talent, especially at the wideout position.

Junior wide receiver Kenny Johnson has multiple NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision offers, while Michael Scott is coming off a standout freshman campaign at wideout. Johnson already has an offer from Penn State, and   Nittany Lions’ head coach James Franklin visited Dallastown High on Monday.

The team’s second-leading rusher, Caleb Fox, was also a junior in 2021. Fox was a second-team D-I all-star at outside linebacker.

“I feel that we have lots of work to do,” Murphy said about his 2022 team. “We have an outstanding group of young men and strong athletes. I’m confident that our staff and players will put the work in to make sure we are competitive and achieve our goals for the season. I am only one person in this venture, but we have a very supportive community and administration. There is a buzz around the school right now, and it’s a great time to be a Wildcat.”

Levi Murphy is shown here during his standout college career as an offensive lineman at East Stroudsburg.

He excelled on and off the field: Murphy certainly knows what it takes to excel on the field.

He was two-year captain at Dover High and was a four-year starter at East Stroudsburg on the offensive line. He was also an East Stroudsburg captain as a senior.

“I prepared relentlessly for 55 collegiate games,” Murphy said. That preparation certainly showed up in his on-field performance.

Murphy  knows about off-field success as well. At Dover, he was the senior class president. At East Stroudsburg, he was an Academic All-American and a semifinalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy, which honors the college football player with the best combination of academics, athletics and community service. He was also a nominee for the All-State Good Works Team, honoring student-athletes for involvement in service activities.

More:HEISER: Dover High School grad Levi Murphy makes big impact both on, off football field

The best candidate: It’s a combination that Dallastown athletic director Josh Luckenbaugh says made Murphy the best candidate for the job.

“His vision to lead our program is in conjunction with our overall vision of our school district,” Luckenbaugh said. “He prides himself on building relationships and developing student-athletes. The way Levi carries himself and holds himself to a high standard is exactly what we look for in our leaders of our programs. Levi’s expectations to work hard, compete and do it right, are three pillars of excellence that fit with Dallastown.”

Luckenbaugh added,  “Age was not a consideration, as we look at it as a positive opportunity for young man to make an impact on many students' lives.”

Many folks helped him along the way: Murphy said many folks are responsible for his landing a head-coaching job at such an early age, most notably his parents, Rodger and Gwen.

His father, who also coached Levi, got him started in the game. Other names that Levi mentioned as mentors were Kevin Myers (the former Dallastown head coach), Pete Bowen (Murphy’s position coach at Dover), youth coaches Lou Orndorff and Jim Monos and three of his East Stroudsburg coaches (Mike Santella, Jimmy Terwilliger and Denny Douds).

More:Dover's Shad Murphy thrives on football field while battling cystic fibrosis

One other person has also definitely had a major impact on Levi – his younger brother Shad, who has long battled, and overcome, cystic fibrosis.

“I hope that our players will display the same toughness I have seen from my younger brother Shad. He is my biggest inspiration,” Levi said. “Growing up watching him grind to overcome a debilitating respiratory disease by playing high school sports, running a marathon and beginning student teaching as a senior at Kutztown this semester, have served as a constant reminder of the incredible things that can be accomplished with an unrivaled attitude and a smile on your face.”

York-Adams Division I will present challenge: Levi knows that excelling in an improving York-Adams Division I will not be easy.

“We have had some outstanding teams in recent years, like the Central (York) team that played in the state championship game two years ago,” he said. “Currently there are a number of great coaches in the division and several players who have received big time D-I offers. The trajectory of the division has certainly been pointing upward.”

The first step on competing in D-I will be assembling a coaching staff that Levi said will “work relentlessly with our players.”

“We will have a staff filled with men who will be positive role models for our players,” Levi said. “Our coaches will combine passion and compassion as we work to develop our players into great teammates and leaders in the short term, as well as fathers and husbands down the road.”

Based on his impressive track record at the tender age of 25, if those Dallastown players need a role model, they would do well to look to their new head coach – a man who is determined to pursue his football passion “relentlessly.”

— Reach Steve Heiser at sheiser@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @ydsports.