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High School Football: Saints turn to Root to grow program

July 03, 2013|By TIM KOELBLE | koelble@herald-mail.com

ST. JAMES — The fireworks going off today for John Root are in celebration of more than just the Fourth of July.

Root also is celebrating his first job as a head football coach.

Saint James athletic director Jim Fahey made the announcement on Wednesday that Root, 45, has been chosen to take over the Saints football program — left without a coach recently when Juwuane Sandridge resigned to take the offensive coordinator spot at North Hagerstown.

“We are very happy to get him,” Fahey said of Root, who’s married and the father of a boy and girl. “He brings a lot of experience with him.”

Root has previous coaching ties within the Tri-State area, as his career started following his high school years near Erie, Pa., at Fairview and then in college at Clarion University, where he graduated in 1989.

He moved to Hagerstown and joined the North Hagerstown football staff, then led by Glenn Cross, in 1991. After four seasons, Root moved over to Greencastle-Antrim, where he spent 10 seasons on the staff of head coach Chuck Tinninis.

Root spent one year at Shippensburg High, one year at Scotland and then went back to Shippensburg before he left prep coaching.

He has been helping out some in junior league football and teaches kindergarten through fourth grade at Greencastle, where he will continue as a teacher.

“When you’ve played and coached football for as long as I have, it never leaves you,” Root said of his desire to return. “I saw the (opening) at Saint James and thought I could pursue it.”

Stepping in at this date in the offseason, Root will have some catching up to do, but it won’t be in the form of naming a staff. He already has three assistants with him.

“I can’t change being behind,” he said. “As soon as the holiday is over, we’ll meet with the players and I want to make contact with all the parents. We’ll look at some past game video and personnel.”

Root will make his debut on Aug. 31, when the Saints host Central Maryland Christian in a 2:30 matinee game.

The Saints are coming off a 1-8 season, the only win in the season opener.

Fahey also said the new field turf for football has been completely installed and the uprights are in place.

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