Pair of football coaching colleagues take over programs at Spring Grove, Hanover
Tom Trone and Jarrel Burnett worked together as defensive coaches at South Western before joining their new teams.
Tom Trone was one of the first coaches Jarrel Burnett met when Burnett came on as the defensive backs coach at South Western High School six years ago.
Trone, the defensive coordinator for the Mustangs at the time, and Burnett, a former Division I prospect who had his college ambitions cut short by a pair of knee injuries, hit it off well, as their respective football philosophies were quite in tune.
“I’ll tell you what,” Burnett said, “Tom and I really clicked when I first got there.”
The admiration between the two coaches is clearly mutual.
“Jarrel is one of the best defensive backs coaches I’ve ever been around in my career,” said Trone, who was an assistant coach at Spring Grove for 12 years before spending the last 12 years at South Western. “I just think a ton of him.”
After working together for the last five years, the two coaches are simultaneously taking steps up the coaching ranks. Trone, a teacher at Spring Grove Middle School, and Burnett were officially announced in January as the new head football coaches at Spring Grove and Hanover, respectively.
“I think that he will be great for that program at Hanover,” Trone said of Burnett. “He really relates well with the kids and he’s a great motivator.”
Good timing: While the pair coached together at South Western for several years, the timing for their respective promotions could not have been much better.
The resignation of Will Thompson after one season at Spring Grove last fall presented Trone his first chance to take over a program, one that he was a part of for nearly two decades. The fact that Trone’s son, Carson, will graduate from South Western this spring before beginning his college career at Millersville next fall also allowed the move to take place.
“If Carson was a junior instead of a senior, I don’t think Tom would have moved on,” Burnett said. “So the timing couldn’t have been better.”
Burnett’s move down the street to Hanover also had several elements of timing that fell perfectly into place. The Nighthawks played all of last year without a head coach after Wil Rider parted ways with the program the week prior to the team’s first contest. Looking for someone new to come in and energize a program that hasn’t had much success over the past decade, Hanover found its man in Burnett and offered him the position.
Building a staff: The biggest initial hurdle for Burnett was piecing together a coaching staff. Aside from himself and Trone, no one else from the South Western staff wanted to leave, which Burnett worried might make finding capable assistants a problem. To his surprise, nearly all members of Burnett’s new staff presented themselves without much of an extensive search.
“I worked at New Oxford and South Western,” Burnett said. “And if you know anything about those programs, you’re not going to get New Oxford people to leave and you’re not going to get South Western people to leave. So I was just wondering, ‘How am I going to put together a staff?’ But it all just really came together perfectly. It’s just a perfect meld of people.”
One of the people that Burnett — who played high school football in Harford County, Maryland — is looking forward to working with is his brother, Jamar Summers.
“My brother and I had a dream of coaching together at one point,” Burnett said. “He lives about an hour away, but if he’s willing to drive to come to practices, that will be a great thing.”
Both first-year coaches share one more thing in common — enthusiasm for their new jobs.
“I just can’t express how excited I am,” Burnett said. “It’s been a crazy journey. It’s been a dream of mine ever since I got done playing, and I never thought it would happen.”
“I started coaching in 1998 after I graduated from Lebanon Valley,” Trone said. “So I’m excited to finally get a chance to take over (a program) myself.”