North Hills maintains similar style, formations despite coaching change
North Hills has a new coach and a new athletic director each for the first time since well before any of the players on the team were born. That doesn't mean there will be a change in the expectations or mindset.
“We've had a blueprint for success at North Hills,” said Pat Carey, the Indians' longtime defensive coordinator who was promoted to head coach earlier this year. “We won't vary too much from that blueprint.”
Carey replaced Jack McCurry, who won 281 games and four WPIAL titles over 35 years at North Hills. Carey was a significant part of the majority of those teams, a two-way starter on the 1987 USA Today national championship team who later spent 19 seasons as an Indians' assistant coach — the past 15 as defensive coordinator.
Carey is not planning many significant changes to North Hills' structure and scheme but will take input from some of the new members of the coaching staff — although many of the assistants are the same as before. Carey said his biggest adjustment personally was dealing with some of the organizational duties he never had in the past.
“Coach McCurry had been here for so long that literally any change feels huge,” senior two-way returning starter Corey Bopp said. “Mr. Carey and him are similar as coaches, but as people they are very different.”
North Hills returns almost half its starters from a team that went 6-3 in the regular season and was ousted in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs. Among those who must be replaced are three all-conference honorees, the quarterback and leading rusher.
Junior Jake Bruder was competing with junior Brandon Wagner to earn the starting quarterback job. They join tight end/fullback/linebacker Bopp, offensive tackle Colin Murphy, center Brandon Malick and two-way athlete Kevin Koch as players expected to take on leadership roles. Senior tailback Darnell McFadden could also contribute.
Elliott King, Adam Hofmeister and Alex Danis are experienced, talented players on the offensive and/or defensive lines — units expected to be an Indians' strength.
“We're going to try to play great defense because we believe you have to be a good defensive unit to compete in our conference,” Carey said. “We'll certainly try to run the ball on offense, but we're still growing and finding out about ourselves as an offensive group.
“We have a lot of the same philosophies and some new additions to the X's and O's. We'll see how we progress and find out who we are and what we can do.”