Former teammates at Lock Haven University, York Suburban coach Andy Loucks and Gettysburg coach Matt Heiser compete against each other for Y-A D-II. ROB ROSE, @robrosesports
Three hundred and sixty four days out of the year, Andy Loucks and Matt Heiser are friends.
However, one Friday night a season the two find themselves as opponents in the same sport that brought them together.
Former football teammates at Lock Haven University, Loucks’ York Suburban squad (7-0) prepares for a clash with Hesier’s Gettsyburg team (6-1) on Friday night that could decide whether the Warriors repeat as Division II champions or if the Trojans are destined for an undefeated season. Both are unbeaten in D-II action.
Before the game against his friend, Heiser recalled the first time he faced Loucks when both were head coaches in 2015.
“Both of us are probably the same way — very competitive,” Heiser said. “At that point in time, when we walked on the field, (their friendship) was gone and then when you walk off the field, it’s back.”
College teammates: The bond the coaches have started 25 years ago when they were members of the Lock Haven defense.
With Loucks a defensive lineman and Heiser a linebacker, Heiser said at first they didn’t talk much because they played different positions. Loucks said they hung out with the same group of friends, which led to them becoming closer.
One thing they both had in common was a passion for coaching.
“I think that was something we always wanted to do,” Loucks said. “We weren’t really sure at what level we were going to do it at, but that was something we had always talked about doing.”
Both Heiser and Loucks got into coaching quickly, which they each said helped keep them in contact with each other. Part of the reason they were able to stay in contact was that, while Loucks was coaching at Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology, he would recruit players from Heiser’s Boiling Springs High School team.
“We were fortunate we both knew each other and, at the same time, it was a great tool to know somebody that can have a good connection for a young man to have a great opportunity," Heiser said.
The first showdown: In 2015, Loucks took over at Suburban after coaching at Kennard-Dale and the friends faced each other as opponents for the first time. Heading into the game, Loucks anticipated what the Gettysburg squad would look like, based off his knowledge of Heiser’s work ethic and preparation.
“I knew what we were going to get,” Loucks said. “If they are anything like him, they’re going to be ready for every game they play. He was always ready to play. I knew it was going to be a tough game.”
Heiser and Loucks both said they don’t keep track of the record in games when their teams meet and there isn’t bragging rights for the winning coach for a season.
For the record, each coach has won two games in their head-to-head meetings, with Loucks winning the first two meetings in 2015 and 2016 and Heiser evening the series the past two years.
Each coach has claimed a York-Adams Division II title during the four years they’ve coached against each other and they're not surprised with the success the other has had.
Focused on winning: For Loucks, he’s happy to see his friend’s team doing well, but when they step on the field as opponents, it’s all about leaving with the victory.
“It’s fun,” Loucks said. “Obviously it’s competitive, but I want to see his team do well and obviously I want to do well. But when it comes down to a Friday night, I don’t care if he’s my friend or not, we’re playing to win the game.”
Reach Rob Rose at firstname.lastname@example.org.