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Former York-Adams coaches team up at Northern York

Patrick Strohecker
505-5402/@P_Strohecker
  • Bill Miller spent 14 years as the head coach of Dover football, serving two separate seven-year stints.
  • Brad Livingston was the head coach of Central York's football team for 34 seasons.
  • Miller and Livingston have nearly five decades of head coaching experience in the Y-A League.

During a preseason scrimmage against West York earlier this month, Northern York head football coach Bill Miller stood to the side and observed the action.

The Northern York school board voted 5-4 against applying for admission into the York-Adams League and will remain a member of the Mid-Penn Conference. Amanda J. Cain photo

Everywhere around him was filled with coaches barking orders, some of them his assistants and some from West York. Occasionally, Miller would raise his voice or address his team, telling his players what he wanted. For the most part, though, he stood and watched, taking in everything.

At the end of the scrimmage, with his team kneeling around him, Miller was honest. He told his players that their performance was about "80 percent" of what he knows his team is capable of doing this season.

"That'll get you 5-5," he said.

Earlier, when action was still taking place, one of Miller's assistants who was doing some of the instructing was Brad Livingston, a longtime head coach. Between Miller and Livingston, the two have nearly five decades worth of head-coaching experience, and much, much more as football coaches, in general. Together, they make up one of the most experienced coaching duos in District 3. It's an embarrassment of coaching knowledge at the disposal of the Northern players. It's also a tandem that meshes well together.

"He brings a certain stability, in that, if there’s something that I don’t see or I’m privy to, he’ll bring it to my attention," Miller said of Livingston. "As a head coach, your attention to detail has to be top notch, and he sees things that I maybe don’t catch right away, so he’ll let me know certain things like that, even from an offensive standpoint, when he sees things, he’ll pipe in there.”

Paths to Northern: The irony in both Miller and Livingston joining forces at Northern is that, if each had it his way, neither would've left his former program.

Northern York defensive coordinator Brad Livingston traded in all of his black and orange Central York attire after 34 years as head coach for the purple and gray of Northern York. Amanda J. Cain photo

On two occasions, Miller coached at Dover, serving two seven-year stints, first from 1996-2002, then again from 2006-12. Following the 2002 season, he was forced to leave the Eagles program. He was away from Dover for three years. in that time, he served as an assistant for the Polar Bears under longtime legendary coach Rick Mauck.

"He’s about as good as they come," Miller said about coaching under Mauck. "I learned more in two years than I had learned in seven years as a head coach. I was a totally different coach when I went back to Dover."

When Miller returned to the Eagles before the 2006 season, he helped turn around the program, with everything coming to fruition in 2011, when Dover went 9-2 overall and won the York-Adams League Division II title. But, after the following year, Miller was not brought back, a decision, again, that wasn't his own.

"Leaving Dover was the absolute last thing I ever would’ve wanted to do," he said. "I’m very happy where I’m at. I’m very comfortable at Northern at this point, but leaving Dover was not necessarily something I wanted to do.”

Livingston's ouster from Central York was very public and very controversial. After serving as the program's head coach for 34 years, Livingston was fired from the team shortly after the Panthers' 3-7 season ended. Yet, even after being around the game for so long, Livingston still had the passion to coach.

Following the 2015 season, Greg Bowman left Northern after just one season to take over as head coach at New Oxford. That created an opening for Miller to fill, after serving as an assistant and defensive coordinator the previous three seasons with the Polar Bears.

Once he took the position, one of his first actions was sending an email to Livingston a couple weeks after his dismissal asking him if he wanted to join his staff with the Polar Bears. The two met for more than three hours, most of which they spent talking about things other than football. By the time the meeting ended, the two good friends were joining forces at Northern.

Northern York head coach Bill Miller walks back to the sidelines during a football scrimmage at West York Saturday Aug. 20, 2016. Amanda J. Cain photo

"I was really excited about that," said Livingston, who will serve as the defensive line coach and call defensive plays during games. "I've known Bill for a long time. I've coached against him when he was at Dover. He's a good guy, a friend and a good football coach and I was excited that he thought enough of me to ask."

Going forward: Miller and Livingston aren't the only members of the Polar Bears' coaching staff with ties to the Y-A League. Marty Green used to also be a head coach at Dover, while Scott Link played at West York and was an assistant under Miller at Dover.

Miller and Livingston, however, are the two local coaching icons who grab the attention. For Miller, he's more than comfortable being back in a head-coaching role, especially at a program he's been around for the past three years.

Livingston is the one who had to go through the biggest adjustment. Not only will he call a new sideline home for the first time in 3 1/2 decades on Friday night when the Polar Bears play host to Susquehannock, but he's also trading in all of his orange-and-black Central attire for the gray and purple of Northern. Neither fact bothered Livingston, especially the color-scheme change, because he says that purple is one of his favorite colors.

Livingston out as Central York coach

All the two guys can do now is look forward. While their past jobs may not have ended the way they envisioned, they have a new start at Northern — and they're still coaching high school football on Friday nights.

"I move forward," Livingston said. "I'm not looking back. I wasn't wanted (at Central York) anymore and I feel fortunate that I was able to join a program and a school district the quality of Northern York. It's been a blast so far, everybody's been welcoming and I couldn't be happier."

— Reach Patrick Strohecker at pstrohecker@yorkdispatch.com