Monday Morning Quarterback: Pittston Area Too Quick To Open Coaching Spot
By opening its football position to outside applicants, the Pittston Area school board elected to take a look and see what is out there. At least, that’s what board president Kent Bratlee said of the unanimous 8-0 decision last week to open up the position held by Jim Norris for the last three seasons.
Well, if the board thinks the next Nick Saban is floating around out there looking to coach at Pittston Area, good luck.
From 1966 to 2004, Pittston Area had five football coaches. From 2005 through the end of the 2016 season, the school has had four. Simply put, the Pittston Area job is one approached with extreme caution, because there is not a coach out there that is going to put his reputation on the line for a shot to coach three seasons if the wins and losses aren’t there.
Sure, you can point to other issues within the program. But try to find a high school football team where there aren’t internal issues. Kids quit. Parents get upset about playing time. You deal with it, and they eventually move on. The days of rosters consisting of 60 or more players are long gone.
Since Pittston Area began this sequence of bringing in a new coach every three or so years, the school district has seen some pretty good coaches come and go.
Lon Hazlet? He just coached in a Class A district championship game.
Tony Donato? His reputation speaks for itself.
Mike Barrett? A young coach from a pretty good coaching tree.
The common thread is they had three seasons. In Donato’s first season, which should have been Hazlet’s fourth, the Patriots made the playoffs. Norris nearly led the Patriots to the playoffs this season.
Common sense dictates that it takes more than three years to build a program. The Pittston Area freshman team just completed an 8-1 season, which shows there is some talent on the horizon. When you take over a program, you typically build from the ground up. A freshman team that finished 8-1 seems to be a pretty solid start. But you can’t do it in just three years. Norris deserves a chance to at least see one freshman class cycle through.
But what this school board also has to take into consideration is this: There is an unwritten rule among all coaches in the Wyoming Valley Conference. If a job is opened and the head coach chooses to reapply, as Norris said he has done, nobody else will put in an application out of respect for the head coach.
Now, we will all get to see who honors that rule and whether or not it still applies.
Raising the bar
With three touchdown passes on Friday night in a win over State College, Williamsport quarterback Isaiah Hankins became the Wyoming Valley Conference’s all-time leader in career touchdown passes.
Hankins currently has 64 touchdown passes. Berwick’s Ron Powlus previously held the record with 62.
Carrying the torch
Despite beating Delaware Valley in the opening round of the subregional playoffs, Williamsport was declared the District 2-4 subregional champion. Delaware Valley was declared the District 2 champion, furthering the point that even if you lose, you can still win.
Anyway, Williamsport is the last team that participates in the WVC still standing. There is something to be said for being the last team from a conference standing in the state’s highest classification.
Williamsport will take on Pittsburgh Central Catholic at 1 p.m. Saturday afternoon at Mansion Park in Altoona. This might be the first time all year the Millionaires enter a game as the underdog. Understandably, it is a pretty far drive for fans residing in the Wyoming Valley to take in the game. But at least follow along. It might be a while before we see another team like this.
Work to be done
Including Delaware Valley, the Lackawanna Football Conference swept all six classifications when it came to crowning District 2 champions.
Williamsport, which played six teams from the WVC this season, is still alive in the state’s highest classification.
Valley West, in 2015, was the last team from the WVC to win a district championship. Crestwood won a district title in 2014, and you would have to go back to 2013 to see the WVC win Class 4A, 3A and 2A district titles.
So, if you are a fan of WVC football and you have a friend from the LFC that has been picking on you, you can relish in the fact that it really hasn’t been that long since the WVC won multiple district championships.
This is it
With the season rapidly coming to a close, and just one team from the Wyoming Valley Conference still playing, this will be the final Monday Morning Quarterback of the year.
I would just like to thank all of you who followed along since we began this journey way back in August. I appreciate all the input, comments, questions and emails that you have sent over the last four months. Well, some of the emails. I will admit that some of your suggestions may not be physically possible.
As always, it is nice to see that fans are as passionate about high school football as ever. And fear not: Next year will be here sooner than we realize.
One more to go
Just a friendly reminder that at 1 p.m. Saturday, the annual UNICO Game will be played.
It is the 66th annual event, and although it kicks off approximately one hour after the Michigan/Ohio State game, (the one game that Penn State fans are concerned about outside of the Nittany Lions’ schedule), all proceeds will go to charity. It is your last chance to see the top senior players from the WVC play.
It is definitely a worthy cause. Plus, it will be the last time this year you get the chance to see Joe Gallamo chart plays before he shifts duties to keeping score of basketball games.
PIAA FOOTBALL PAIRINGS CLASS 6A Quarterfinals Friday
North Penn vs. Garnet Valley, 7 p.m. at North Penn High School, Lansdale
(12-1) St. Joseph’s Prep vs (11-1) Parkland, 1 p.m. at Northeast High School Supersite, Philadelphia (4-1) Williamsport vs. (7-1) Central Catholic, 1 p.m. at Mansion Park, Altoona Cumberland Valley vs. Wilson, 6 p.m. at Hersheypark Stadium, Hershey
CLASS 5A Quarterfinals Friday
Srpingfield Delco vs. Academy Park, 7 p.m. at Springfield Delco High School, Springfield (11-1) Whitehall vs. (12-1) Archbishop Wood, 7 p.m. at Northampton High School Harrisburg vs. Manheim Central, 7 p.m. at Hersheypark Stadium (7-1) West Allegheny vs. (10-1) Meadville, 7 p.m. at N. Allegheny High School, Wexford
CLASS 4A Quarterfinals Friday
Berks Catholic vs. Shippensburg, 1 p.m. at Hersheypark Stadium (12-1) Imhotep vs. (2-1) North Pocono, 7 p.m. at Northern Lehigh, Slatington (7-1) Thomas Jefferson vs. (10-1) Cathedral Prep, 7 p.m. at Baldwin High School, Pittsburgh
(11-1) Bethlehem Catholic vs. (6-1) Johnstown, 1 p.m. at Chambersburg High School
CLASS 3A Quarterfinals Friday
(3-1) Middletown vs. (2-1) Scranton Prep, 7 p.m. at Bethlehem Stadium (9-1) Karns City vs. (6-1) Central Martinsburg, 7 p.m. at DuBois Area Middle School
(11-1) ND-Green Pond vs. (12-1) Delaware Valley Charter, 1 p.m. at Bethlehem Stadium Bye: Beaver Falls
CLASS 2A Quarterfinals Friday
(6-1) Ligonier Valley vs. (2-1) Dunmore, 7 p.m. at Bald Eagle Area High School, Wingate
(4-1) Southern Columbia vs. (11-1) Schuylkill Haven, 1 p.m. at Shamokin High School (10-1) Wilmington vs. (9-1) Kane, 1 p.m. at Slippery Rock University Steel Valley vs. Neshannock, 6 p.m. at Robert Morris University, Coraopolis
CLASS A Quarterfinals Friday
(11-1) Williams Valley vs. (3-1) Steelton Highspire, 7 p.m. at Shamokin High School Bishop Guilfoyle vs. Homer Center, 7 p.m. at Mansion park (10-1) Farrell vs. (9-1) Ridgway-Johnsonburg, 7 p.m. at Slippery Rock Uinversity
Clairton vs. Jeannette, noon at Robert Morris University