Published: Sunday, April 8, 2007
Mercer Co. schools select from within
Two of Mercer County's storied football programs have decided it's better to retain as many of the sports' highly successful traits as possible, rather than "go outside" when it comes to selecting a new football coach.
The two schools, Greenville and West Middlesex, believe it's better to stay "in house" rather than looking far and wide for a new taskmaster.
When you have had tremendous success in previous years, why not select a coach who has been on the school's respective staff for years? That means selecting one who knows the system, knows the players and has a pretty good idea of the type of opposition his team will be facing.
Keeping these thoughts in mind, Greenville recently elevated a long-time assistant to the head spot in Brian Herrick, a member of former Coach Bob Stone's staff (offensive coordinator) for the past 16 seasons. Stone, with the best won-loss record in Mercer County football history (222-75-6), retired after spending 29-years in the Trojan program. His career spanned over 40 years.
On the other side of the ledger, West Middlesex dipped into its stock of assistant coaches and came up with another prize in 26-year-old Jason McElhaney, a young and ambitious former assistant under Brian Hoffman, who left the Big Red program after leading his chargers to the PIAA Western Regional Championship. Hoffman, after his banner season, left the Big Red program to take the head coaching position at Hubbard High School, his alma-mater. The Big Reds lost only one game last year, that coming in the state title game.
Herrick, 41, is very familiar with Greenville football. And he knows, too, that he's stepping into some mighty big footsteps, the ones left by Stone. But he's accepting the challenge and he has a full compliment of assistant coaches returning which should help him considerably.
In his younger years, Herrick played for Stone, so he is a product of Trojan football, a program that for years had relied heavily on powerful running game. Herrick could change that somewhat, depending on what situations he faces.
The new Trojan mentor has had an exciting background in football. After playing for Stone at Greenville, he played at Grove City College under another coaching stalwart, Chris Smith.
And anyone who knows anything at all about small college football should know about the the exploits of Coach Larry Kehres, of the Purple Raiders of Mount Union College (Alliance, Ohio). The Raiders have won nine Division III national championships and they have all been recorded since 1993.
McElhaney was a four-year letterman for the Purple Raiders at his defensive end spot. In three of his years at Mount Union, he was a member of national championship units.
The school also had an unbeaten streak of 110 games which came to an end in 2005. Evidently McElhaney knows how to win.
Hoffman served on the Big Reds' program for 10 seasons, but only three as head coach. McElhaney's past tasks for the Big Reds was as a defensive assistant and special teams coach. He was a four-year member of the Big Red staff.