Tim McAneney guided Lenape to its first South Jersey football championship this season, a year after taking the Indians to their first championship game.
McAneney tries to deflect credit, rightly saying he had a great group of character players who liked nothing better than competing and winning. He lauded his school administration, which has helped the program take a serious leap. And most of all, he thanked the greatest coach he ever knew: his late father, Vince McAneney.
Lenape’s 10-7 win in the South Jersey Group 5 final that capped an 11-1 season was a tribute to McAneney’s guidance, but also to the person who shaped him as a coach. Vince McAneney died at 86 in January 2016, but his spirit remains instrumental to his son.
“I was talking to him at halftime,” Tim McAneney said. “I said, ‘Keep me calm. Help me make good decisions.’ ”
For his accomplishments, Tim McAneney has been named The Inquirer’s South Jersey football coach of the year. It is a testament to his father, no stranger to awards or championships himself.
Vince McAneney won 244 games at three stops: Philadelphia’s West Catholic, Cherry Hill West, and Pennsauken. At Pennsauken he presided over powerhouses — three teams that were eventually named The Inquirer’s No. 1-ranked South Jersey team.
His son would roam the sidelines, soaking in the knowledge, and it’s no surprise that he has incorporated many of his father’s football ideas.
Take the punt, for instance.
“Every day, we practiced punting from the 3-yard line because my dad taught me it is the hardest place to punt on the field, under the goal post,” said Tim McAneney, now 103-75 overall in stops at Bishop Eustace, Holy Cross, and Lenape.
Is it any wonder in the championship game that Lenape punted seven times and Rancocas Valley didn’t have a single big return?
His father kept it simple, and his son does the same.
“He would say, ‘Let’s stop their best player running their best play,’ ” Tim McAneney recalled.
Rancocas Valley, an outstanding running team, was limited to 39 rushing yards.
The biggest thing that Tim McAneney gained from his father was his demeanor.
The elder McAneney was intense, but he didn’t motivate through yelling and demeaning players. His son coaches similarly.
“He doesn’t yell at you. He yells to you,” senior linebacker Zach Cole said. “It’s easier to play when you don’t have a coach screaming at you, and he is great with us.”
Tim McAneney is humble, not prone to bragging, with one exception — when discussing his father’s exploits.
“He always talks about how he wants to make his father proud and how much his coaching style is shaped by his father,” Cole said.
The players have heard and benefited from hearing about the many coaching success stories of Vince McAneney.
“He really loves his dad and admired the way his dad was,” senior linebacker Mike Galaida said. “He has always been an awesome coach, and it’s been an honor to play for him.”
Before he was hired in 2011, Lenape last had a winning season in 2002, when the Indians were 6-4. It took McAneney some time to put his program totally in place. The Indians were 4-6 in each of his first three seasons, but in the last four, they have gone 39-7.
The younger McAneney knew what he wanted to see in players and had the ability to bring the most out of them. He also learned one other great lesson from his father: Work the players hard, but don’t overwork them.
Whether it is evaluating talent or developing it, Tim McAneney was shaped positively by his father.
“Since we won, I have been thanking my dad for the last 72 hours,” McAneney said.