HEISER: Six men facing tough jobs in York-Adams League
- Josh Oswalt takes over a Central York program that was 3-7 last year.
- Oswalt replace Brad Livingston, who won 211 games in 34 years wih the Panthers.
- All six York-Adams League head football coaching positions have now been filled.
The interviews are over, the recommendations have been made, and the votes have been cast.
It's official. The six York-Adams League head football coaching openings have now all been filled.
The final domino fell on Monday night when Central York hired former Carlisle head coach Josh Oswalt to replace longtime Panthers boss Brad Livingston.
The other new local head coaches are: Jeff Mesich at Eastern York (replacing Dave Kemmick); Russ Stoner at York High (replacing Shawn Heinold); Charlie Troxell at York Tech (replacing Brian Hanson); Greg Bowman at New Oxford (replacing Jason Warner) and Chris Grube at Kennard-Dale (who finished the 2015 season as K-D's co-head coach with Eric Updegrove after Patrick Weider's tenure ended suddenly midseason).
Now the hard work really starts.
All six men will face considerable challenges next fall. The combined record of their six teams a season ago was just 14-46.
Central: There's no doubt that the situation at Central generated the most heat. To say the December decision to remove Livingston was a controversial one would be a serious understatement. In 34 years, Livingston was 211-153-4 and won 10 York-Adams Division I titles. Over his final two years, however, Central was just 8-12.
Oswalt, however, seems to embrace the challenge of replacing the Panthers legend. He had nothing but praise for the longtime Central boss during an interview Monday night. That should go a long way toward easing any lingering disharmony in the Panthers football community.
Oswalt, at 29, is less than half Livingston's age, but he already has six years of head coaching experience at Carlisle. His overall record with the Thundering Herd was not stellar at 18-44, but he was 10-12 his last two years there, making the District 3-AAAA playoffs each of those seasons.
Of course, the Carlisle post was not an easy job. The Herd won just six games in the four years before Oswalt arrived, and the facilities there are reportedly in disrepair. In fact, according to a Carlisle Sentinel story, the football equipment budget at Carlisle was just $8,200 per year. The Central facilities should be a significant upgrade.
That's one of the reasons that Oswalt believes Central can be the Cumberland Valley of the York-Adams League. That's a pretty tall order. CV is the dominant program in District 3-AAAA football. Oswalt, however, should know what he's talking about. He's a CV graduate.
York High: Oswalt's hiring comes less than a week after Stoner was approved at York High.
Stoner's task with the Bearcats is even more daunting. He's not replacing a legend, but York High has been struggling mightily in recent years to earn wins and attract players. Heinold's six-year mark was 17-44, including 0-10 last season.
Still, it's not impossible to win at York High. Matt Ortega proved that when he led the Bearcats from 2004 through 2008, compiling a 37-18 record, including 10-2 marks in his final two seasons. In the five seasons before Ortega arrived, The Bearcats were 8-42. York High's record before and after Ortega's tenure speaks volumes about Ortega's capabilities.
Stoner did experience some success in his first head coaching gig at Spring Grove, but he left with an overall four-year mark of 18-25.
York High has the potential to recapture the glory days enjoyed during the Ortega era, but it won't be easy. Recent history is not on Stoner's side. His toughest job might be convincing York High's top athletes to come out for the sport.
However, York High's new athletic director, Ronald Coursey, seems committed to improving the Bearcats' athletic programs across the board, which should be a big asset for Stoner.
The rest: There's no doubt that the Central York and York High positions were the most high-profile York-Adams openings. They are both AAAA schools with notable traditions.
The other new coaches are stepping into programs that have enjoyed only intermittent success, at best, over the decades.
The best opportunity might be for Mesich in his first-ever head coaching shot at Eastern York. Kemmick had an 11-10 record in his two years with the Golden Knights, including a 7-4 mark in 2014. Still, his contract was not renewed after a 4-6 stint in 2015.
New Oxford is coming off a 2-8 season in 2015 and an 0-10 campaign the year before. Bowman, however, did guide Northern York to an 8-4 record in his only season as the Polar Bears' head coach. So he knows how to win.
Winning seasons have been few and far between at Kennard-Dale. Grube, however, does know the football landscape in Fawn Grove. As co-head coach with Updegrove over the final six games a season ago, the Rams went 2-4, finishing 3-7 overall.
Troxell might have the toughest job of all at Tech, which was 2-8 last season. The Spartans have won more than three games just once since 1994. Troxell knows what he's in for, however. He was also Tech's head coach from 2002 until 2004.
Good luck: In less than six months, the six new coaches will start to find out where their programs stand.
Their job descriptions are really pretty simple.
In the most high-pressure position in prep athletics, all they have to do is win consistently, keep their players eligible and out of trouble and instill discipline and standards without yelling too much or cursing too loudly. They have to keep the players, the players' parents, the super fans and the administrators universally happy. And they have to do all that while laboring in a yearlong, part-time job that pays far less than minimum wage, if you want to do it right.
Good luck to all of them. They're going to need it.
Steve Heiser is sports editor of The York Dispatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.