Players met the new head football coach Friday afternoon to hear the game plan for a successful football program.
By Adrianna Clinton and Ben Otte
Following the resignation of Red Lion’s long time head football coach Pat Conrad in the wake of a 1-9 season, the Lions looked for a new coach to fill the vacancy.
It was made official April 4 when the Red Lion School Board voted to approve the athletic department’s selection of Jesse Shay as head football coach.
Shay, 34, comes from Bishop McDevitt where he played an important role on the defensive side of the ball since 2009. After serving as an assistant defensive coordinator for two years, he was promoted to lead the defense at the start of the 2011 season. He would lead the Crusaders to claim the District III AAA crown that year, and again in 2012 where the team went 14-1 with the only loss being in the state semi-finals.
“There is no secret to success...my former team worked hard. Guess what we’ll do here. Work hard,” Shay said in his inaugural speech. He stressed that the team will have a fresh start and that the best 11 players from both sides of the ball will be put out onto the field.
Defense was an expected talking point at Friday’s meeting after players learned of his previous defensive coaching position in Harrisburg. Shay mentioned his philosophy: being different defensively; incorporating man-to-man coverage in the game plan and blitzing constantly to force the opposing offense to make mistakes. “I want turnovers. Possessing the ball is how you win games.”
Shay mentioned a new acronym to the team: F.A.M.I.LY: Forget About Me, I Love You. The room of fifty football players chuckled, but the new head coach remained firm in the fact that he cares a lot about his players.
He went on to say that there aren’t many jobs he would have left, but there was a reason why he left the high-caliber school of McDevitt for the position offered at Red Lion.
“I know talent. I came to Red Lion because there is so much ability and you guys are so close to being a great team. There are many tremendous returning players. There is no reason that a school like this can’t be mentioned in a breath with Cumberland Valley, Central Dauphin... win or lose,” said Shay to his new team. “Teams will leave us knowing they were a part of a football game.”
The conclusion of the meeting left players such as junior Chris Knorr “very excited for the upcoming season”. Knorr expressed a clear approval with Shay’s credentials. He wasn’t the only one who seemed to look forward to the future. Many others including sophomore Dan Waldrup thought the meeting “went well”.
“He seems like he’s a good coach who will get the job done. His words of encouragement motivated me. I’m excited for this season and to have the opportunity to work hard and bring Red Lion back to the top,” Waldrup said.
Shay concluded the meeting with encouraging words. “I’m excited and I hope you are as well. We will do great things. You will be proud to wear Red Lion on your jersey and proud to walk on that field and off. We can win here.”