A few things become readily apparent if you have ever been around York High football coach Russ Stoner for more than a few minutes — he is ambitious.
Whether it’s turning around a Bearcat program from cellar dweller to contender or helping local high school football players improve as the football director at the Ballyhoo Sports Academy at Heritage Hills, Stoner is fully committed.
That level of passion is something that led Stoner towards becoming more involved with the Quarterback Club of York.
Having been to several of the QB Club’s football recognition dinners for York-Adams League players as the coach of honorees, Stoner saw an opportunity to both help the QB Club grow, but also to better promote the area’s talent. That thought crystallized for Stoner, who led the Bearcats to a second consecutive Y-A Division I championship this past season, when Bearcat standout Dayjure Stewart was denied an opportunity that Stoner felt he rightly deserved — a spot on the Big 33 roster.
Getting involved: Instead bemoaning, Stoner decided that now was the time to do something about it, which led to his growing involvement with the QB Club of York.
“About a year ago, (the QB Club) asked for some of the high school coaches to get involved,” Stoner said. “My whole goal is to get recognition for our kids here in York and Adams which is why I got involved."
Part of that is making sure that kids like Stewart, who rushed for over 3,000 yards this past season, get their due recognition, Stoner said.
“That was kind of the thing that put the nail in the coffin to get more involved,” Stoner said. “... I don’t care if he’s from York or from Mars, that kid should have been on the Big 33 team."
Promotion problems: Stoner hopes to be able to correct that injustice by helping to elevate the York-Adams area into at least the same level of notoriety that the Harrisburg area schools enjoy. While he acknowledges that the performance of ‘big-school’ Y-A teams over recent history at the District 3 level has been disappointing, he doesn’t feel that it has anything to do with talent.
“I look around at the Harrisburgs and the Cumberland Valleys and the Central Dauphins up there, and they are always front and center,” he said. “I don’t believe that any of us (York High, Central York, Dallastown and Red Lion) wouldn’t have success one bit.”
Part of the problem, according to Stoner, is that local teams have not promoted themselves well.
“I am really frustrated to no end about how we cannot get kids recruited from the York-Adams area,” said Stoner, the football director at Ballyhoo. “Now, I know that we had a great year this past year, but it is a daunting task to get colleges to offer our kids scholarships on a year-to-year basis. And it’s 100 percent our fault. We do not do a very good job around here of promoting our football programs.”
Changes to the Club: That’s where Stoner feels that the QB Club of York, which was started back in 1975 as a booster club for the then Baltimore Colts, can help.
Stoner already has big plans in the works for the Club. One of them is to modify the annual 10K run that was typically held on Labor Day into a 5K run that will be held towards the end of July.
Stoner is also hoping to create something that he feels has been sorely lacking — a York-Adams Football Hall of Fame.
“We’ll have to figure out what the criteria is for that,” he said. “But I think we can come up with a list. I know that Dick Van O’Linda several years ago did a column of the top 40 over the past 40 years, and I think that would be an easy place to start. Those 40 guys, and then each year, come up with 10 to 12 more players that we can induct into the hall of fame.”
One of Stoner’s other objectives is for the Club to have it’s own all-star team. That would entail picking first-team, second-team and honorable mentions squads. He also hopes to provide medals or trophies for the league champion in football.
“Not only do we not get medals, we don’t even get a trophy that can go into a school’s trophy case," he said. "To be a division champion in York is just on paper, and I want to change that.”
Stoner understands that his goals will not be easy to achieve.
“It's going to be a lot of work,” he said. “But it’s something that I’m prepared to take on, and I’m hoping that I can get guys like (Red Lion coach) Jesse Shay and (Dallastown coach) Ron Miller and other coaches to help. My goal is to get this all going and have a solidified plan in place by August.”
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.