ARMOLD: Miller coaching tree sprouts limbs at West York, Dover
When Ron Miller resigned from his position as coach of the West York football team in December, he left behind more than a winning tradition for the Bulldogs.
He also seems to have planted the seeds of the area's next head coaching tree.
Two of his former assistants will patrol the sidelines as head coaches on Friday nights this fall with programs that are very familiar to Miller.
And the former Bulldog boss was anything but surprised by the hires.
Jeremy Jones was hired in February to replace Miller at the helm of the Bulldogs' program. And Miller couldn't be happier that his former offensive coordinator has returned to West York after two seasons away as head coach at York Suburban.
"I couldn't think of anyone better to do so," Miller said. "He's got to be one of the hardest workers I've ever been around. He cares about the kids, goes the extra mile to develop them. At the end of the day, that's the most important part, is the development of those relationships."
In March, former West York defensive line coach Wayne Snelbaker was tapped to lead the Dover Eagles football team, one which he played for during his days as a student.
Miller was quick to highlight Snelbaker's strengths in coaching the defensive line, calling him a "great tactician" and noting Snelbaker's exceptional attention to detail.
Snelbaker, like Jones, was also admired by Miller for his leadership off the field.
"Obviously we're going to miss him terribly, and that whole rivalry with West York and Dover makes it interesting," Miller said. "In my mind, I would love for him to go 9-1 and just lose to West York."
Much to the chagrin of both, Miller and Snelbaker haven't had the opportunity to talk much. Snelbaker said he knows Miller supports him and expressed gratitude for his opportunity at West York.
"I couldn't have asked for a better situation, to be under Ron Miller and then to come here, it just made me better as a coach," Snelbaker said. "But, to be at my alma mater, I think everybody dreams of that. It's been a long time coming."
One benefit Jones enjoys over Snelbaker is that he still has Miller working in close proximity. Miller remains at West York on the faculty, serving as the dean of students. The arrangement allows for ample opportunity for Jones and Miller to maintain communication.
However, Miller insists that Jones is carving his own path and that he fully intends to stay out of the way.
"I don't want in any way, shape or form to impact what Jeremy is trying to establish," Miller said. "It's his program and he's got a great coaching staff, and I don't want to hinder him at all.
"He's going to do his own thing, and I am trying to do the best I can to just be here to support him. And anything he needs, he knows he can come to me. I'll offer my advice, and whether he takes it is up to him."
For his part, Jones plans to keep many things the same systematically but he did point out one approach that will immediately separate him from the more excitable Miller.
"Personality wise, (Miller) always referred to us as yin and yang," Jones said on Monday at York-Adams Football Media Day. "We're obviously different ends of the spectrum. But we have the same goals and intentions. So even though things might not look different, it's a little bit of my flavor on it. Not much has changed, but there are changes behind the scenes."
Rivalry game: All parties questioned displayed coaching professionalism when asked about the looming annual rivalry match up between the Eagles and Bulldogs, slated for Oct. 30 this season at Dover. All were quick to downplay any possible extra meaning to the game.
"Obviously Wayne's a great guy and he'll really help the program," Jones said. "Does it add any more to it? I don't think so. Our goal is to go 1-0 every week, whether it's Suburban, Gettysburg, whoever."
"The West York thing doesn't bother me," Snelbaker said. "I know it's a rival."
For his part, Miller still isn't sure if he'll be at the game. Now that he's no longer on the sidelines, Miller would like to get out and see more schools in action throughout the year. He does, of course, intend to keep a close eye on the Bulldogs and the Eagles.
Miller said if he attends, he'll do so quietly.
Who's next: While still a sapling, this coaching tree seems poised for continued growth.
When Miller was asked which current assistants that he's worked with would make good head coaches, two more names in the rivalry quickly came to mind.
"Josh Fry (currently the defensive coordinator at West York), without question, is going to be a head coach. He's fantastic," Miller said.
Fry was also lauded by Jones during Monday's York-Adams Media Day as being instrumental to Jones' transition, helping maintain stability and familiarity.
"And the other guy is Wayne's brother Jim (Snelbaker, currently an assistant with Dover who served as an assistant under Miller for a number of years)," Miller said.
"If Jim wants to be a head coach, there's no question in my mind he could do that. But I think he's going to be pretty happy running the offense and working side by side with his brother. Both are more than qualified to be head coaches."
— Reach Elijah Armold at firstname.lastname@example.org; @EADispatch on Twitter.