Friday, August 25, 2006

PSAC Capsules


When you take a close look at the head coaches of the schools in the Western Division of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference football situation entering the 2006 campaign, a couple of things will become evident from the start.

There will be some of the old and a some of the new, even a little borrowed, but not a lot of blue. All of that considered, here is how things shape up for the seven head coaches as they, along with their assistant coaches, prepare their respective squads for the 2006 season.

The new will be provided by Jay Foster and Lou Tepper. Foster, a long-time assistant, takes over the program at Clarion succeeding Malen Luke, while Tepper moves from Edinboro to IUP to head the Indian program.

Although not new to the conference, Edinboro’s new coach will be former Fighting Scot assistant Scott Browning who moves up the top spot following having served 20 years as an assistant at The ‘Boro.

While Foster, Browning and Tepper are invading new territories, the other four remain status quo at their respective schools.

Dr. George Mihalik will begin his 19th season at The Rock, while Rocky Rees will enter his 23rd year overall and his 17th season at Shippensburg.

John Luckhardt will enter his fifth season at California after serving as the head coach at Washington & Jefferson for 17 years, and John Klacik begins his second season at Lock Haven University, his first full year as mentor of the Bald Eagles.

Here is a closer look at how each of the seven teams stack up heading into the 2006 season:

Team: California

Nickname: Vulcans

Stadium: Adamson Stadium (5,000).

Head Coach: John "Lucky" Luckhardt (4 years at Cal, 24-18; Career Record (21 years), 161-55-2.

2005 Record: (8-2 Overall, 5-1 in PSAC-West)

Returning Starters: Offense (10), Defense (10), Special Teams (1).

Key Returnees: Wide Receiver Nate Forse, wide receiver Marcellus Garner, center Tim McCutcheon, linebacker Brian Mohr, defensive back Jermaine Moye and quarterback Joe Ruggerio.

Coaches Comments: "We have a chance to be very competitive and that has been our goal ever since we have been here. Our goal when we got here is that we want to be a player (for the team title) every year. We want to be in the mix of things and if we are considered one of the favorites every year, that is really what our goal has been. We have all of the guys back up front (on offense) and instead of just having one outstanding back (Antoine Bagwell), we feel that we have a mix of three or four guys who will give us some depth at that position. Being named the top-ranked team in the conference is such a different perspective for California than it has been in the past. Our goal each year is to be in that one or two mix and we want to be a competitor wherever we are picked. This is a very, very good league and I truly believe there are five teams that all have a chance to win and we just want to be one of those five."

Team: Clarion

Nickname: Golden Eagles

Stadium: Memorial Stadium (5,000)

Head Coach: Jeff Foster (1st year)

2005 Record: 3-7 overall, 1-5 in PSAC-West.

Returning Starters: Offense (7), Defense (7), Special Teams (2).

Key Returnees: Offensive guard Eric Deliere, linebacker Matt Morris, wide receiver Pierre Odom, defensive end Kevin Rigby, center Zack Snyder and defensive back Dwaon Woodard.

Coaches Comments: "The last five months of preparation and when the season ends, the seven or eight months you prepare for the beginning of the next season, that is why you coach. You coach for Saturday’s, work with the guys and see if we can do something that nobody expects us to do. My history is that nobody ever expected me to be here, not only as a coach but going back to a player as well. The perception from the outside is that we are a sixth place team, but we are going to change that. From the inside, I never thought I was a sixth place coach, player or whatever and I want to these guys (Clarion players) to think that same way. We have 22 players who can win a conference championship. We can line 22 up against anybody. I know that, I believe that and now this group needs to believe that. Once they believe that, we will go out and prove it to everybody else. If we didn’t have the horses, that would be one thing. We got the players and we can win. Now we just have to go out and beat them (our opponents.)"

Team: Edinboro

Nickname: Fighting Scots

Stadium: Sox Harrison Stadium (6,000)

Head Coach: Scott Browning (1st year)

2005 Record: 8-2 overall, 5-1 in PSAC-West

Returning Starters: Offense (5), Defense (7), Special Teams (2).

Key Returnees: Defensive tackle Chris Amico, nose guard A. J. Cousins, offensive guard Chris Kaczor, punter/placekicker Kody Robertson, linebacker Jim Soltis and linebacker Ben Stroup.

Coaches Comments: "I think having been here as an assistant for 20 years is an advantage for me because I know the inner workings of the university. I just need to know what type of kids I need to recruit that are going to be happy at Edinboro University. Thus far, things have gone very well. We had to hire two coaches and I think the staff we have now is as good a staff as we have ever had at Edinboro. Our players are excited and right now, we have a lot of energy in our program. We have had a lot of successes in previous years so the kids know what it is all about. With my having been here before, the only two people who had to become comfortable were the two new coaches we hired. For everyone else, it was just a matter of carrying on because they know what is expected from them as well as what it takes to be successful."

Team: IUP

Nickname: Indians

Stadium: George P. Miller (6,500)

Head Coach: Lou Tepper (1st year at IUP), Career Record (65-57-2, 11 seasons)

2005 Record: 5-5 overall, 4-2 in PSAC-West

Returning Starters: Offense (9), Defense (6), Special Teams (1).

Key Returnees: Offensive tackle Jason Capizzi, wide receiver Anthony Cellitti, linebacker Terrence Jackson, tailback Chris Morgan and quarterback Kevin Weidl.

Coaches Comments: "There were really three reasons why I made the move," said Tepper about moving from Edinboro to IUP. "Number one was family and location. I was born and raised 25 miles from there (Indiana), my wife is an IUP grad as was all of my family. The second reason is that IUP has such a great tradition and Frank Cignetti developed a program that ranks as one of the best in the nation. The third reason was the vision the administration at IUP had that made me feel very comfortable and for some reason, they felt that I could carry that (the tradition) on. I was flattered by that. I think we can be sound defensively, but for that to happen, a number of things have to occur. We have 43 players on defense coming into camp and only two of them are seniors, neither of whom started so we will be very young. I think we have the talent so I am anxious to see just how far we can take it. My philosophy on offense has always to seek balance. As a defensive coordinator, the teams that concerned me the most were the teams that could rush for 200 yards and rush for 200 yards. I would much rather face a team that could throw for 400 yards, but couldn’t run the ball. Or a team that rushed for 350 yards and couldn’t throw the ball. We are going to try and achieve balance and going into the season, I think we are capable of that."

Team: Lock Haven

Nickname: Bald Eagles

Stadium: Hubert Jack Stadium (3,500)

Head Coach: John Klacik (2nd year, 2-9)

2005 Record: 2-9 overall, 0-6 in PSAC-West

Returning Starters: Offense (6), Defense (9), Special Teams (1).

Key Returnees: Defensive tackle Jeffrey Eaton, linebacker Derek Harsch, offensive lineman Adam Lanzendorfer, safety David Show and wide receiver Rafael Smith.

Coaches Comments: "

"One advantage we will have coming into this season compared to last year is that our guys will know what to expect," said Klacik. "Nothing is going to be surprise to them as to what we ask them to do. As for the newcomers, they will be coming in with a clean slate so they won't know anything about what happened at Lock Haven in the past so I think that should give us a chance to build on what is coming in."

"I think what happened with our program this spring is the guys that hung with us through our first year realized what it is going to take to turn the place around. They worked real hard and I was extremely happy with the amount of team building we were able to do. We might have had small numbers, but we certainly didn't have small effort. As a coach, I think the kind of effort you are getting from your players is what you look for. I feel good about the group we had in the spring and the group we have coming in so now we can start focusing on getting a team built."

Team: Shippensburg

Nickname: Red Raiders

Stadium: Seth Grove Stadium (7,700)

Head Coach: Rocky Rees (17th season at Shippensburg, 23 overall).

2005 Record: 4-7 overall, 2-4 in PSAC-West.

Returning Starters: Offense (10), Defense (9), Special Teams (1).

Key Returnees: Linebacker Frank Duffy, fullback Aaron Dykes, wide receiver Patrick Ferguson, kicker Jamie Reder and strong safety John Sharbaugh.

Coaches Comments: "We are going to be young as we were last year. But we are going to be experienced, young because we have a lot of young kids who got valuable experience last season. Now it is a question of the kids using that experience to their benefit so they do not make the mistakes they made last year. They have existed at the previous level, but now they will have to step up and take it to the next level. Another big key for us is to find the leadership among the team, personally and as a group. If they can find the leadership to get them over the top, I think we will be very competitive."

Team: Slippery Rock

Nickname: The Rock

Stadium: N. Kerr Thompson (10,000)

Head Coach: Dr. George Mihalik (19th year, 120-73-4)

2005 Record: 5-5 overall, 4-2 in PSAC-West.

Returning Starters: Offense (9), Defense (9), Special Teams (1).

Key Returnees: Offensive tackle Mike Butterworth, kicker Ryan Daniel, wide receiver Paul Favers, defensive end Clint Forsha, defensive tackle Cory Lacek and linebacker Jerome Whiting.

Coaches Comments: "I think the key to our season is for us to have a strong start this year. Winning five of the last seven (in 2005) gives us some good momentum and confidence coming into the season. It is always tough to start strong anytime you open up against Youngstown State."We have some good freshmen coming in. We are and never have been much of a transfer type program, but we have some good freshmen coming in. How quickly they adjust to the college game, nobody can predict. We hope to get some help in the secondary as well as up front on defense and at the running back position. I think you will see some freshmen running with the football this year for Slippery Rock."