High School Football: Time forces Longnecker to call time

December 03, 2012|By BOB PARASILITI |
  • Randy Longnecker
Randy Longnecker

WILLIAMSPORT — Football is a game where teams try to beat two opponents — the other team and the clock.

After a season where the opposition was challenging enough, Williamsport coach Randy Longnecker was ultimately beaten by the clock.

Longnecker ended his four-year stint as head coach of the Wildcats for the most basic of reasons. He was short on time.

“There is no down time,” Longnecker said. “Football has become an 11-month sport. We were giving the players a month off after the season and then starting offseason work to get ready for the next season. And then, I needed to be taking care of family responsibilities and it became really tough.”

Thus, it became time for Longnecker to regain his lost time.

He steps down with a 14-27 record, after a 1-9 season — one of major rebuilding proportions after the nucleus of 2011’s Maryland Class 2A playoff team had graduated.

The Wildcats lost their first nine games before defeating Clear Spring in the season finale.

“We got the most out of the kids that we could,” Longnecker said. “We fought every week. ... It’s not that we didn’t try hard. We made mistakes, but it wasn’t because a lack of effort.

“In the human factor, we did all the things that we could control.”

Longnecker, who formerly coached at Waynesboro, chose to resign shortly after the season. The job remained in limbo until recently, when the position was listed as an opening on the Washington County Public Schools website.

Williamsport entered the season with a host of new faces. Quarterback T.J. Boyer was the most experienced player returning from a team hit heavily by graduation and transfers. Gone were mainstays like Tyler Wise and Alex Fridley — both at Shepherd University — and the entire offensive line.

The Wildcats opened with two physical losses to Liberty and Allegany, and needed time to adjust.

“We weren’t a physical team,” Longnecker said. “Liberty blitzed the heck out of us. The kids had a tough time adjusting. It was a tough start for a team that had fragile confidence to start with.”

Longnecker said the in-season time strain also had a bearing on his decision. He is a guidance counselor at Williamsport — a time-consuming position — and had times where we was working with students late in the day before rushing to practice.

“I was the only coach in the building,” Longnecker said. “But my staff did a fantastic job and were so supportive in helping me keep things rolling. It was wearing on me having to run from one job to another without any down time.”

In his tenure, Longnecker enjoyed some of the highest points in Wildcats football, starting with Williamsport’s first-ever berth in the playoffs in 2011.

There were other milestones along the way, including Williamsport’s huge victory over North Hagerstown in 2011.

“That was a huge quality win for the program,” he said. “We had not beat them in a long time and I was impressed the most by how we did it. We only had limited things we could do and we executed and carried out the game plan to perfection.”

Those were the moments that were more important than the record for Longnecker.

“I figured this job was part of a ministry,” Longnecker said. “You aren’t going to get rich being a football coach. I wanted to help the kids. I hoped it reflected in morals and what it takes to be a man. Seeing kids reaching their potential and doing more than they thought they could is something I didn’t want to miss.”

And with that, Longnecker leaves football with good feeling.

“I have no regrets,” he said. “We put in a good system. You always wish you made a few calls differently, but in the big picture, we created a team that Williamsport could be proud of and changed the culture of the program.”

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