By RYAN VANDERSLOOT
There has been a sea change with the Eastern York football team over the past year.
First the program, which competes at the Class AAA level, found out it was moving from a smaller-school York-Adams Division III, comprised mostly of AA and A teams, to a newly realigned and bigger-school Division II, which features all AAA programs. The Golden Knights will now compete against West York, Dover, York Suburban, Gettysburg, Kennard-Dale and Susquehannock.
After this past season, when the Golden Knights finished 5-5, Head Coach Richard Brubaker elected to step down after three years at the helm, citing family reasons. Brubaker led the program to a 13-17 record over his tenure.
Now the changes appear complete after Eastern recently announced the hiring of Dave Kemmick as its new head coach. An assistant coach at three different schools across the river in Lancaster County (Hempfield, Columbia, Donegal), Kemmick is hoping to quickly turn the Knights into a contender in their new division.
While Kemmick, who teaches math in the Columbia School District, may not have a lot of name recognition to many York-Adams fans, he does have a tie with the school district, where he taught some of his junior players a few years ago when he served as a long-term substitute teacher.
We caught up with Kemmick to discuss his promotion and his plans for the program for this edition of Sports Q&A.
Q: What emotions did you feel when you were named as the next football coach at Eastern York?
A: “I am very excited to have the opportunity to coach at Eastern York. I know it’s a great district and is committed to the success of its students. I’m looking forward to contributing to the football program and the district as a whole.”
Q: What does getting this position mean to you personally?
A: “I began my football coaching career at the youth level, moving to head coach at the freshman level and then assisting at the high school level for several years. As a result, I focus first on teaching fundamentals, developing character and discipline, and then on winning games. I am honored to have been selected, as I feel Eastern York made their decision based on a belief in this coaching philosophy and my commitment to the program.”
Q: When did you find out about the opportunity to take over as head coach and how long or quick was the process?
A: “I learned of the open position in mid-January, and the interview process and school board approval were very timely and smooth.”
Q: How familiar are you with the Eastern program and what were your thoughts about it when you applied?
A: “I have some familiarity with the high school program, having met them as an opponent, and in reviewing film of other teams. They seem to have made progress in the last few years with Coach Brubaker, and I’m excited to keep the momentum going.”
Q: Does moving up to Division II next season make your job any more or less difficult?
A: “Regardless of which division we’re in, my job is to teach the players the game of football and to encourage them to be successful as students and members of the community. I’m confident that together we will be successful on the field.”
Q: What do you know about the York-Adams League and, in particular, the teams in Division II that you will battle this year?
A: “I am familiar with a few of the teams in the York-Adams League from scrimmages and games in the past few years. With the realignment and several new head coaches in the league, it should be an interesting season.”
Q: Who will be helping you out as assistant coaches?
A: “Several of the existing staff members will be returning, including Defensive Coordinator Josh Campbell. In addition, coaches I’ve worked with in the past will assist in varying capacities.”
Q: What kind of characteristics do you feel that you have that make you confident you are the right person to coach the program at this time?
A: “I am energetic and ready to be on the field with the players. My attention to detail and organization are also important. I believe in the importance of academics and discipline both on the field and off.”
Q: What is your plan for helping to turn around a team that hasn’t experienced a great deal of success the past handful of years?
A: “The program has made some progress in the last few years, and continuing to build an environment with a winning attitude will be important. I will focus on team–building and ensuring proper execution of basic skills and plays, creating a belief in the team’s ability to win. Increasing the collaboration with the freshman team should also have a positive impact. I know there is currently interaction with the youth program, and I will build on that for the future.”
Q: Who in the program are you most excited to coach?
A: “I am very excited to have the opportunity to coach all the players on the team. I do remember some of the current junior class from when I was a long-term substitute in the district several years ago (in 2009) and I’m looking forward to meeting them again.”
Q: What do you feel is the program’s greatest strength at this point?
A: “The returning players will contribute heavily to the success of the program in the coming year and there’s a lot of potential in the freshman and youth levels. I also have felt a great sense of support from both the administration and the school board, and I’ve heard great things about the parents’ organization.”
Q: What type of changes, in particular on offense and defense, will you implement that differ compared to last year?
A: “I will be using an offensive system that’s different than what they’ve been running. It will have a lot of Wing-T principles, but we will be running out of other formations as well. Defensively, we will most likely keep what’s been working and add some new ideas.”
Q: What area of the team do you feel like you can have the greatest impact on?
A: “My changes to the offensive system will be new and should have a big impact. Some changes will be made to the weight-lifting routine for the offseason. My belief in the team’s ability to win will be evident, and therefore the players will believe in themselves.”
Q: What would a successful first season under your helm look like at this point?
A: “Having the support of the community and the school will ultimately lead to a successful program. I think we can be very competitive this year.”
— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.