Eastern York High School is looking for a new varsity head football coach.
Jeff Mesich has decided to step way after two seasons as the leader of the Golden Knights program, citing family reasons.
Mesich and his wife had their second son, Niko, in August. He was born with two heart defects that required two surgeries.
"It was very hard on my family," Mesich said. "... After the season I took several weeks to think about it and see what was best for me, my family and the football program at Eastern York. I thought it best to step away from the program. It was a decision based on the needs of myself and and my family.
"I had a meeting with the kids and thanked them for helping me and my family get through some tough times. It's something I can never repay."
That was just part of a season of adversity, both on and off the field, for the Golden Knights.
The team struggled to a 2-8 overall record, including 1-5 in York-Adams Division II. The Knights also battled depth issues, with only 34 players on the roster listed on their MaxPreps.com site, and that included freshmen. That number was even lower by season's end.
Finally, in late October, a chartered bus carrying the team back from a game in Blair County was involved in an early-morning crash on Route 30 near the Wrightsville exit. That crash killed a 23-year-old York woman, Jasmine McCarter. Her SUV had crossed the median and into the path of the bus. Three adults on the bus, the driver and two assistant coaches, were injured.
"I am most proud of our great group of kids and great coaches," Mesich said. "I enjoyed all the good times we had together and the way we pulled together in getting through the adversity we had in our personal lives and on the field."
Mesich, 34, said he could get back on the sidelines at some point, but that's not a major consideration at the moment.
"I certainly hope (to coach again)," he said. "It has to be the right time and situation for myself and my family. It's certainly not on my mind right now."
Mesich, who works in information technology, arrived at Eastern after serving as defensive coordinator at Northeastern. He played NCAA Division I football at both Akron and Montana. In high school, Mesich played at Greensburg Central Catholic in western Pennsylvania.
The search for a new coach: Eastern athletic director, Donald Knaub, sent an email on Wednesday announcing that the school is accepting applications for the position. Those interested can apply at the Eastern York School District website. The job was posted on Friday, Dec. 22.
Knaub is hoping to have a new head coach in place as soon as possible. The Eastern AD said that the new head coach would not necessarily need varsity head-coaching experience, but the new coach should have varsity coaching experience.
"We are looking for someone who will be visible in the school and community," Knaub said. "An energetic and engaging person who can attract athletes and improve our numbers. Someone who is willing to put in the time and energy necessary to build our program."
Struggling program: The Knights have struggled over the years to earn wins. Mesich leaves with a 6-14 overall record, including 5-7 in D-II.
That continued a trend for Eastern, which has enjoyed just one winning season since 2002. The lone winning campaign came in 2014, when the Golden Knights finished 7-4 and made the District 3 playoffs.
Eastern has not won a York-Adams division championship since 1990, when the Golden Knights took D-II with a 4-1-1 league record and a 7-3-1 overall record. Eastern also shared the D-II crown in 1989. Both of those title teams were led by running back/linebacker Jon Witman, who went on to play fullback with both the Penn State Nittany Lions and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Third York-Adams opening: Eastern is now the third York-Adams school that is looking for a new head football coach.
Dallastown’s Kevin Myers recently announced his retirement after 13 seasons and an 83-60 overall record, including four York-Adams Division I championships.
In addition, New Oxford recently informed head coach Greg Bowman that it was opening up the position. Bowman elected not to re-apply for the job. In two seasons, Bowman's New Oxford teams went 0-20.