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New head coaches making smooth transition into positions

| Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013, 11:48 p.m.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Greensburg Salem football coach Dave Keefer talks with Simeon Stevens during a seven-on-seven passing tournament in July at Mt. Pleasant High School.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Greensburg Salem head football coach Dave Keefer talks with Dom McKinley during a seven-on-seven passing tournament at Mt. Pleasant High School on July 12, 2013, in Mt. Pleasant.
California's head football coach, Bo Teets.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Southmoreland coach Mark Adams talks to his players during the Westmoreland County Coaches Association seven-on-seven football tournament in July at Franklin Regional High School.

Southmoreland's new football coach, Mark Adams, remembers his first head coaching job well, and it was an eye opener.

“I was told by an old-time coach that your first head coaching job prepares you for your second job,” said Adams, who also coached at Leechburg. “You wear many hats as a coach.

“You're a mentor, a parent, a big brother to some and a teacher to your younger coaches.

“When I was an assistant at Greensburg Salem under George Kemerer, Casey Cavanaugh and Paul Murphy, I watched coach Murphy in motion. It wasn't about X's and O's. I watched him take money out of his pocket and purchase a photo for one of the players who couldn't afford it. That's what coaching is about.”

Adams recalls a lot of unusual things he had to endure as a coach, which included cleaning mold-covered headphones and getting the local fire department to come to the stadium so he could water the field.

“I remember one night at Brentwood when one of the players sustained a concussion and because his parents weren't at the game, I went in the ambulance to Children's Hospital with him and left my assistants to finish the game,” Adams said. “I had to call my sister at 2:30 in the morning and had her pick me up and drive me back to Leechburg.”

Adams encountered a new head coaching challenge Friday when a flash flood engulfed Southmoreland Stadium, forcing the team's scrimmage to be moved to Jefferson-Morgan and placing the home opener Friday against Jeannette in jeopardy.

No one said being a high school football coach would be easy. Many of the new coaches are learning to adapt to different situations.

Greensburg Salem first-year coach Dave Keefer said the first two weeks of practice have gone as smoothly as possible.

Keefer, a former Golden Lions assistant coach, learned a lot from watching his former coach, Ed Dalton, and assisting Art Walker and Terry Totten at Central Catholic, as well as Cavanaugh, who he replaced at Greensburg Salem.

“The biggest thing we have to learn here is learning how to win in the Greater Allegheny Conference,” Keefer said. “It's a competitive conference, but it's a conference that we can compete at a high level.”

Keefer said the team has responded well to his leadership so far. He's even had to sit down with some players and talk about their problems off the field and how to explain things to their parents about certain situations, like why players weren't participating in the first scrimmage.

“Anytime you are transitioning from being a position coach or a coordinator and becoming a head coach, you have to learn how to manage the administrative end of it and coaching end of it,” Keefer said. “We have a small coaching staff; we have to find a way to distribute ourselves and be affective. It's challenging.

“We've kept it very simple. For the most part, we've been on course of what my expectations were. You always have a few bumps in the road, but we've been fortunate. We've stayed on track.”

Keefer said having educators in football is really important because they can keep a pulse on the district, and that's a benefit.

Bo Teets at California has been pleased with the progress his team is making.

He said he was prepared football-wise for any situation. But dealing with administrators, boosters and parents will take some time to adjust.

“There will be some growing pains,” Teets said. “I'm a teacher first. My goal is to get the players to think about the future by getting them into college or the military.

“The next goal, because our numbers are low, is keeping them healthy and not beat them down. I want them to play physical and be aggressive. I'm very encouraged so far.”

Paul Schofield is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @Schofield_Trib.

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