Kyle Adkins realizes the expectations that come with taking charge of a football team that went 133-22-1 and won five PIAA state championships in the last 11 seasons under his predecessor.
“I know it’s there, but I can’t control any so-called pressure,” the 24-year-old Adkins said. “My concern is having a good practice today and then another good practice tomorrow.”
Adkins was named the new coach in April. Steve Devlin, who last year guided the Vikings to a 12-2 record and their fifth state crown in seven seasons, left to become the defensive coordinator at Ursinus College.
Adkins was a defensive back and linebacker at Wood (class of 2012) and a defensive back at Ursinus. He was the Vikings’ defensive coordinator the last two seasons.
Wood, seeking its 10th consecutive PIAA District 12 title, returns seven starters on defense and five on offense.
“We have 27 seniors, which is a lot for us, but a lot of them are inexperienced,” said Adkins, a medical sales representative.
Adkins said two of Wood’s veteran assistants, offensive coordinator Chip Ross and wide receivers and defensive backs coach Kurt Stengel, “are guys that are very important moving forward.”
Rick Pennypacker, who won 237 games in 29 seasons at Pottsgrove, stepped down after last season. Bill Hawthorne, who spent the last 19 years as the Falcons’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, is now at the helm.
“A lot of people think it’s a negative replacing a legend,” Hawthorne said. “But I see it as a positive because Rick established a winning tradition and left the program in a pristine state.”
Hawthorne was a freshman at Pottsgrove when Pennypacker, who was an offensive lineman at West Virginia, took over the Falcons. Pennypacker, who coached for 41 years, had a run-heavy offensive strategy.
“We’re still going to try to establish the running game,” Hawthorne said, “but we’re planning to spread the field out a little more with the pass.”
Hawthorne, 43, played quarterback and outside linebacker at Pottsgrove (class of 1993) and was a quarterback at Dickinson.
Another new head coach is Frankford’s Bill Sytsma, a 1997 graduate of the school. He was the Pioneers’ offensive coordinator last season and the quarterbacks coach the previous three years.
“This is real exciting for me, especially since I grew up in Frankford,” Sytsma said. “It’s probably one of the most historic teams in the country.”
Kyle Detweiler is Archbishop Carroll’s new boss. The 30-year-old coach replaced Dan Connor, a standout linebacker at Strath Haven and Penn State who left after two seasons to become Widener’s defensive coordinator.
Carroll last season went 3-8 overall and 0-6 in the talent-heavy Catholic League Red Division. The Patriots have since moved to the Blue Division.
“Our kids have had to get adjusted to a whole new system,” Detweiler said. “They did some nice things in our scrimmage Saturday against Penn Wood.”
School: new coach; former coach
Archbishop Carroll: Kyle Detweiler; Dan Connor
Archbishop Wood: Kyle Adkins; Steve Devlin
Central Bucks West: Rob Rowan; Chas Cathers
Conestoga: Matt Diamond; Marquis Weeks
Delco Christian: Lloyd Hall; Drew Pearson
Frankford: Bill Sytsma; Dominic Doyle
Kennett: Lance Frazier; Josh Kaufman
Lower Merion: Evan Breisblatt; Bryan Scopelliti
Methacton: David Lotier; Paul Lepre
Morrisville: Steve Schweiker; Derrick Savage
Norristown: Joseph Milligan; Jason Powel
Palumbo: Josh Kaufman; Scott Pitzner
Pennridge: Cody Muller; Jeff Hollenbach
Phoenixville: Don Grinstead; Evan Breisblatt
Pottsgrove: Bill Hawthorne; Rick Pennypacker
Prep Charter: Dan Skalski; John Wagner
Upper Moreland: C.J. Szydlik; Adam Beach
Valley Forge Military: Brian Goettner; Mike Korom
W.C. Henderson: Stefan Adams; Steve Mitten
William Tennent: Rich Clemens; Leo Plenski
Wissahickon: Bruce Fleming; Randy Cuthbert