New Faces in Old Places- Four New Football Coaches To Debut
To run in the August 18th Bucks County Herald
On September 3rd, Randy Cuthbert starts his sixth season leading Pennridge’s football program.
Making him the Dean of Upper Bucks football coaches. By far.
C.B. East, C.B. South, Palisades and Quakertown will all have new head men when the 2010 football season kicks off.
Head coaches Brian Hensel (C.B. West) and Jim DiTulio (New Hope-Solebury) debuted in 2009. Only the U.S. Mint has more change than Bucks County sidelines.
Dave Rackovan brings the most august resume of the four new bosses. Prior to taking the helm at C.B. South (3-7 in 2009), Rackovan spent 10 years as Princeton’s offensive coordinator. He specifically focused on running backs for most of his Tiger years.
“The players that really want to be good football players all have the same attitude. They’re going to practice hard and learn what they need to do in order to do it,” Rackovan observed. “They’re going to work hard in the offseason. It’s no different from kids at the Ivy League and kids here.”
From 1976 to 1983, Rackovan ran the program at Purchase Line High in Western Pennsylvania. “I don’t think I ever truly left high school athletics,” Rackovan said. “I was always interested in the possibility of coming back because at the collegiate level, you’re serving in a succession of one year contracts. You always have to have your eyes open.”
A receiver and quarterback at Millersville, Rackovan became the wide receivers/tight end coach at Indiana (PA) in 1984. For the next 26 years- mostly in the Ivy League- Rackovan coached in the college ranks.
Rackovan is a long time resident of the Central Bucks district. His daughter Anita was a lacrosse standout at both C.B. East and Princeton.
John Donnelly, the head coach at C.B. East, is the most familiar “new” name. Donnelly recorded 42 wins in seven seasons at Quakertown.
The Panthers rank just 28th out of 45 AAAA programs in male enrollment, yet Donnelly led Quakertown to a 17-8 record in 2008 and 2009. The Panthers made the state playoffs three times under his stewardship, including consecutive appearances during the last two seasons.
“We want to make it as demanding and rigorous as we can, but also make it a fun and memorable experience for the players,” responded Donnelly when asked about his coaching philosophy. “We want our style of play to reflect our work ethic: a tough, physical, blue collar brand of football.”
Donnelly lives in the Central Bucks district; he also accepted a Social Studies teaching position at East. The father of three young children played his college ball at the University of New Hampshire.
Prior to Quakertown, Donnelly was the head man at Southern Lehigh for three seasons. “It is really vital to be in the building as a teacher and coach. At Southern Lehigh, I was not in the building but at Quakertown I was and I will be at East this fall,” Donnelly explained.
He takes over a Patriot program that went 3-7 in 2009.
Donnelly’s replacement, George Banas, is no stranger to Quakertown. Banas is a Quakertown native and resident; he suited up for the Panthers as a running back and defensive end before playing at Shippensburg.
“I never imagined myself becoming the head coach at Quakertown,” Banas admitted. “I’m honored and believe me, I’m ecstatic about the position. (This) program has given me so much. I’m ready for it. I hope I’m prepared for it and John did a good job getting me ready for it.”
For the last five seasons Banas worked under Donnelly as Quakertown’s defensive coordinator.
“Being able to wear all of the different hats in terms of dealing with the administration, paperwork, dealing with the parents and helping to run the booster club. Before I could just show up and worry about the defense. Now, you’re dealing with the whole program. You own it and are not just a part of it. I think that’s been the biggest difference,” is how Banas described his change in duties since his promotion.
He added, “That and trying to make the program your own as far as changing things up and trying to implement things that you feel are important.”
The 2009 Panther defense held opponents to six points or less three times.
Jim Brady, the new head coach at Palisades, shares an alma mater with Donnelly-Bethlehem Catholic- and a job with Banas. Palisades went 6-5, advancing to the playoffs last season.
“My approach to coaching football is to bring a lot of energy to every aspect of the game,” Brady replied in an email. “I want a team that is excited to be there everyday.”
Brady was an assistant at Wilson High for the last nine seasons; the Warriors won the 2006 2A state championship.
For the last three years, Brady worked as Wilson’s defensive coordinator and receivers coach. Last season, an 11-1 Wilson squad surrendered less than 14 points per game.
“(Wilson) Coach Bret Comp prepares his staff to leave the program and start their own,” Brady pointed out. “We were given the freedom to run the defense as we wanted. He also showed us what he was going through as a head coach of a very successful program.”
Brady teaches with Banas in the Easton school district.
“George and I have been working in the same building for the past nine years. Our paths were very similar,” Brady recalled. “We share the same lunch time. During the season, we were comparing notes and defensive schemes. I’m sure things won’t be changing on that end.”
As four new coaches make their mark, that might be the only thing that doesn’t change in the upcoming football season.
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