Q & A with Southern Columbia’s Jim Roth
Q. Why did you decide to coach High School Football?
A. Because I was involved so much in athletics, when I was younger in high school and college. Sports were always prominent in my life and football was one of my favorite sports, but when I started out here I was coaching three sports here in the early years, football, baseball and wrestling.
Q. How many years have you coached at your school?
A. I will be starting my 28th year as the head coach. This will be my 32nd year total; I was an assistant for four years.
Q. Do you have any interest in coaching at a higher level?
A. I did early in my career.
Q. What do you feel is the most important thing or things that you can teach your athletes?
A. The most valuable thing without question is to teach them as much as I can about developing positive character traits; that is an extremely important goal. I think if any athletic program was run correctly that’s what it does, it should help in character development of young people, which is needed today more than ever, and yet we have people running around claiming we shouldn’t fund high school athletics. The second part of the answer is to teach young people what it takes to be successful, and that’s extremely important.
Q. How important is strength training and nutrition in your program?
A. They are both very important. The nutrition part; I do not have as much control in the nutrition part versus the strength aspect. We can run a strength program and have direct control over the kids on what they are doing when they are here. The nutritional part I can educate but you are not going to have as many hands on control over the way the deal with nutrition. They both are extremely important, and that has been important over the success of over the years.
Q. What kind of offense and defense do you like to run?
A. We have run the Delaware wing-T since 1988. We have been successful running this offense for many years. Some people look at it as a heavy run offense or a one-dimensional offense. But with the nature of changing things up with formation and personnel, you can easily adapt to the type of talent you have. We have adapted and been able to do things with the passing game in certain years when we had the talent to make us more successful with the pass. I think it’s a great offense and a good fit for high school. You don’t necessary need any type of talent like a lot of people today that wants to spread things out and run the spread offense. If you don’t have certain skill people year in and year out that can be difficult.
On the defensive side we have always been a 4-4 team. We always felt the eight-man front was the best fit for high school. We have had to become a little more creative here the last few years because of the popularity of the spread offensives and how much teams throw the ball. It require us at times to break out of the eight-man front look and go to four defensive backs and change things up a bit. The game hasn’t changed in the basic philosophy. If you can’t stop teams from running the ball you won’t win the game.
Q. Who is the best football player you ever coached against?
A. Phil Stambaugh of Pius X who played at Lehigh and in the NFL for a little bit, Jon Veach of Mount Carmel comes to mind. Selinsgrove recently with Ryan Keiser and Myers kids are two of the better kids. At the state level Elijah Fields from Duquesne was a great athlete and Rochester had a lot of them. They had a lot of great players over the years.
Q. Who is the best team you ever coached against?
A. I would say programs, because it’s hard to pick out specific years. It would be Mount Carmel Area, Rochester and Farrell. We played Farrell twice in the mid-90s in state championship games and when we played them they were extremely talented as a team, especially as a class A team. Those three teams jump out and along with Pius X. The other one locally, which may sound a little odd especially if people heard it around here is Central Columbia. Their program has been down lately but the first 20-years of my career we probably had more tough games and probably lost more games to Central Columbia than any other team. They have been a quality program for a long time.
Q. Do you want your athletes to play other sports?
A. Yes, we never had an issue with that. Most of your great athletes are kids who play multiple sports.
Q. Do you think 16 games is too much for high school teams?
A. Not really, I think 16 games year in and year out on a regular basis would be too much. There are only eight teams in the state playing 16 games and we did it. Some of the years we played were only 15 games. We played six of seven times and I never thought it was an issue. We played long seasons for a number of years and we adapted to it.
But regardless of what I think I know it is going to change for next year, it’s going to get cut to 15 games. They weren’t real successful on how about getting it there, none the less it’s going to happen. I think they are worried about how the 16 game seasons will end a week before Christmas and will cut into the winter sports. But again it’s only eight teams. Now we are looking at a situation next year where you are going to have to go with a nine game schedule or the teams I think are going to be givien permission from the PIAA or they can play the first game where the second scrimmage is. That would eliminate the second scrimmage and with out moving the practice date back I don’t know if that is a great idea playing a varsity football game after only two weeks of practices.
There is no easy answer on this. They looked at a 5 or 6 classification idea and one of these options will happen.
Q. What type of a game schedule would you most like to see?
A. We had a tough schedule last year where eight teams where playoff teams. That schedule is going to occur for us again. When you play the competition it’s going to help you get better not just this year, but next year to.
Q. What’s your goals/challenges for the 2011 season and what do you have coming back as a team?
A. Well our goal every year is to win a state championship. We have a group coming back with a strong senior class and a nucleus of returning starters that should enable us to have an opportunity to make a run to get back at a level where we can contain for a state championship again. But again that remains to be seen and I think a lot has to do with how the chemistry develops. We are going to be a senior dominated team. This is the year for us where we have to try and make some noise.
Q. Do you have a pre-game ritual?
A. No I don’t have anything right before the game. The players have a team dinner every Thursday night.
Q. Final Question. How do you define a successful season?
A. Getting the most out of are players is one of the keys.
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