Ex-Neshaminy coach enjoying new role as La Salle aide

Mark Schmidt was 161-66 before stepping down as Neshaminy's coach.

It was in the spring, while Mark Schmidt was watching his daughter's softball game, when his cell phone suddenly rang.

On the other end was Drew Gordon. The La Salle football boss wanted to know whether Schmidt, who had stepped down as Neshaminy's longtime coach in February, was interested in joining the Explorers' staff for 2014.

"He had an opening for an offensive-line coach," Schmidt said. "From there, I went and talked to my wife [Maribeth] about it. We agreed that it would be something worth pursuing."

Schmidt, 54, now working to help make La Salle a force in the Catholic League and beyond, compiled a 161-66 record (.707 winning percentage) in 19 seasons at Neshaminy. He won three PIAA District 1 Class AAAA championships and, in 2001, a state crown.

"His energy level is tremendous," Gordon said. "He gets the kids going, gets them working really hard. It's been a real positive thing for us."

Before Gordon's call, Schmidt, who last season guided Neshaminy to the Class AAAA state semifinals, thought he might be taking a sabbatical of at least one season.

"As soon as I left it, I missed it," said Schmidt, a retired Neshaminy phys-ed teacher. "But you can't go anywhere if there isn't an opportunity. Fortunately, this came up."

Friday night, in Schmidt's debut with La Salle, the visiting Explorers thrived in the passing game and downed North Penn, 29-7, in the season opener for both teams at Crawford Stadium.

Senior quarterback Kyle Shurmur, who is bound for Vanderbilt, hit on 23 of 36 passes for 338 yards and four touchdowns.

"You certainly want to pass-protect for that guy," Schmidt said. "He's a special player."

La Salle's offensive-line rotation included center Jim Morrissey, center-guard Matt McDermott, guards Ryan Schutta and Tom Garvin, tackles Rob Skowronski and Conor McCracken, and tight ends Charlie Hemcher, Ian McIntosh, and Conall Mulligan.

When Schmidt was at Neshaminy, a power running game was the norm. At La Salle, it's the spread.

"I'm not too familiar with it, but it's been a good transition," he said. "I'm learning on the go."

Does Schmidt want to one day be a head coach again?

"Right now, I'm just happy with the opportunity I have here," he said. "I'm enjoying it, jumping in headfirst. I want to help Drew as much as he's helped me in bringing me on."

Recuperating. Pat Manzi, Bishop McDevitt's head coach since 1982, in on a leave of absence while recovering from complications after July surgery involving his gallbladder.

"I almost didn't make it," Manzi said of the procedure. "It was pretty traumatic. Now, I just have to be patient with getting better. It's a day-to-day kind of thing."

Karl Stout, a McDevitt assistant for the last decade, is filling in for Manzi, also the school's athletic director. The 51-year-old, a social studies and math teacher, was defensive coordinator for the last two seasons.

Saturday night at Cheltenham, with Stout calling the shots, the Lancers cruised to a 33-14 nonleague victory over Pope John Paul II.

McDevitt's leaders include running back-defensive end Vince DiLeo, receiver-defensive back Stephen Leach, southpaw quarterback Max Bryson, two-way lineman Robbie Brett, receiver-defensive back Jalen Reynolds, and kicker Brendan Hanagan.

Extra points. Senior linebacker Daron Boone notched 11 solo tackles in Abington's 35-34 win Friday over Northeast. For the Vikings, linebackers Mike Ukaebghu (five solos) and Steve Rowe (four solos, fumble recovery) were each involved in eight tackles. Teammate and defensive end Gladimir Paul, a Virginia recruit, recorded two sacks. . . . In Archbishop Ryan's 21-20 win Saturday over Father Judge, Raiders coach Frank McArdle said a successful fake field-goal play in the second quarter (holder Matt Romano ran 13 yards to the Judge 2, setting up Samir Bullock's 4-yard TD) was inspired by former James Madison and Northeastern assistant Ed Davis. McArdle played under Davis, who died last October, as a linebacker at James Madison and coached with him at Northeastern. . . . For Judge, linebacker Eric Petroski (eight solos) and defensive back Tom Penko (seven) notched 10 and eight tackles, respectively.