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Derry hires Sweeney to helm football team

| Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Derry's search for a new football coach is officially over after the district's school board approved hiring Tim Sweeney to the position at its meeting Thursday night.

Sweeney replaces Al Gaiardo, who resigned in November citing personal reasons. The Trojans went 3-25 over Gaiardo's three seasons.

Sweeney was one of three finalists for the job selected from roughly 30 applicants, according to Derry athletic director Brett Miller.

“One of the things that stuck out to every committee member, and there were several committee members, was his answer to one question in particular,” Miller said. “That was why he wanted to coach at Derry. As many people know, especially in the Derry community, the head football coaching job has been a revolving door for the last 10 to 15 years. There hasn't been any consistency or sustainability with that position. Tim's answer to the question was he wants to coach at Derry because there's nowhere else he wants to coach. He has no interest in coaching anywhere else.”

After the board meeting, Miller, Sweeney and board president David Krinock met with a group of Derry football players to formally introduce the new coach.

“I overheard a conversation he had with the players and he explained to them how much he loves Derry, how much he loves the school, loves the football program and loves the kids in this district,” Miller said. “You don't get those qualities sometimes in a football coach who is so passionate about a district and a football program, and he really is.”

Sweeney was a multi-sport standout at Derry and a member of the school's lone Keystone Conference championship team. He went on to play linebacker and special teams at Penn State between 1985 and 1988 and had been an assistant coach at Derry from 2006 until 2009 under Ron Polinsky.

“For me, I'm a product of Derry, I'm proud of Derry,” Sweeney said. “There's two things — outside of my family and those types of things — there's two things that I associate myself with equal amounts of pride: That's being a product of Derry athletics and also being a Penn State football player.”

A member of the Nittany Lions' 1986 national championship team, Sweeney will inherit a Trojans team that went winless in 2013 and has won a total of just 18 games over the last 10 seasons.

“We're not looking at the recent past, we're not looking at the glory days,” Sweeney said. “We're looking at 2014 as a clean slate in getting this thing moving forward.”

Greg Reinbold is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at greinbold@tribweb.com.

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