It was just the way you expected Kevin Clancy to react to a personal milestone.
Last Friday night’s PIAA District 1 Class 5A first-round playoff triumph at Bishop Shanahan marked Clancy’s 300th career victory, but he made it clear that he wanted the attention and accolades to go to his players.
“It’s nice, but it wasn’t as exciting as the game or what the kids accomplished,” Clancy said. “The big thing is this team and what it’s done this season. The kids are playing their hearts out, getting better every week.”
Sophomore Emmet Young’s 23-yard field goal with seven seconds remaining lifted the 11th-seeded Panthers to a dramatic 24-21 victory over the No. 6 Eagles in Downingtown.
Clancy, who is widely regarded as one of the area’s classiest coaches, posted his 233rd victory in 27 seasons on Providence Road. Prior to coming to Wallingford, he won 67 games in nine years at Archbishop Carroll.
“Obviously, you strive to win every time you take the field,” he said. “But football, just like any sport, should support the educational goals of the school.
“I want the kids to learn a strong work ethic, a commitment to their teammates, a commitment to the program, and how to fight through adversity. These are skills they can use later in life.”
Strath Haven’s Ryan Morris, a third-year varsity starter, plays offensive guard and linebacker for a group that suited up only 33 players against Bishop Shanahan.
“Coach Clancy definitely stresses the importance of us being a family,” the 6-foot-1, 200-pound senior said. “I think the bond we have gives us a chance to win any game we play.”
Clancy, 63, was a two-way lineman at Archbishop Carroll (class of 1971) and “a deep sub” as a defensive lineman at West Chester University.
The Havertown resident said he “kind of caught the coaching bug” while playing under former West Chester boss John Furlow and assistant Dick Yoder.
Clancy, a health and physical education teacher at Strath Haven, has guided the Panthers to 11 Central League crowns, including eight straight from 1996 to 2003.
He has won 11 District 1 Class 3A titles and a pair of state championships. The Panthers defeated District 7’s West Allegheny for statewide glory in 1999 and 2000.
The best overall player Clancy has coached in nearly three decades at Strath Haven? “I couldn’t answer that,” he said. “If I gave one name, I’d be cheating a lot of other players.”
Next for this year’s Panthers (6-5) is a quarterfinal playoff vs. No. 3 seed Unionville at 7 p.m. Friday.
Strath Haven’s wing-T offense is spurred by fullback Zack Hussein, halfback Sean Daly, receiver Thomas Foster, and tight end Ethan Belville. Morris anchors the line with tackles Lee Holbert (6-3, 290) and Ryan Krouse (6-3, 215).
In addition to Morris, a 4-2-5 defense is headed by Morris, tackle Krouse, ends Belville and Jon Morris, linebacker Daly, cornerback Foster, and free safety Ibrahim Pio.
Eight of Kevin and Alexia Clancy’s nine children are boys. All of the boys have played football at Haverford High. Senior Jack and sophomore Billy are offensive linemen for Joe Gallagher’s Fords.
“She’s put up with a lot,” Kevin Clancy said of his wife. “She’s my hero.”
Morris has registered a team-high 121 tackles. He will take all that he has learned from Clancy to Monmouth, where he will concentrate on lacrosse.
“He can be tough on you when it’s needed, but he can also be like a friend off the field,” Morris said. “I think that balance is what has made him so successful in his long career.”