Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Shamokin Names Yaacov Yisreal New Head Football Coach

Yisreal sits down with reporters

 Introduction by President Brian Persing

Shamokin Area welcomed former Penn State standout Yaacov Yisreal as their 11th head coach since 1965.  Yisreal comes over from Halifax after coaching the undermanned Wildcats to back-to-back 4-6 seasons.

After some questions and missteps about the hiring practice, the board approved Yisreal by a 9-0 vote. A candidate who was considered a finalist for the job had pulled his application from the process.  Yisreal comes to Shamokin by way of Chicago through Penn State meeting future wife Jill Martz at State College.

Shamokin Area has been a graveyard of coaches since enjoying some success on a state level under Dave Zielinskie the early 1990's.  Since then the Indians have gone through 4 head coaches including an unsuccessful second stint by Zielinskie.  To make matters worse, Shamokin has not beaten rival Mount Carmel since 1995. Shamokin's two main rivals, Southern Columbia and the Red Tornadoes have won 11 state titles since 1994.

What has happened to Shamokin over the last 20 years where nearby schools such as Selinsgrove, Mount Carmel and Southern have all mined PIAA gold? Every time the football coaching job has opened, the battle cry has been for more discipline on and off the field.  In addition to discipline, another new cry has been the youth programs need an overhaul.

Having played in high school football in the 1980's before extensive weight training and before the high fructose corn syrup and video game era, I think players were more self motivated to do well. Each coach that has come in the last 20 years have enjoyed some degree of success, but have been able to maintain or build upon it. For the most part, I believe have been held to different standards than other coaches in the district.

One thing I have seen in the last 32 years including 4 as a player is I have seen Shamokin decline in the number pure athletes that we once had competed.  I am not knocking our current group, but years ago you had many athletes excelling and dominating at three sports not just one. If you look at some of the success Shamokin enjoyed over the last 20 years, it has been tied to a strong running attack with a running back rushing for over 1000 yards. 

Changing Shamokin's fortunes on the field require a change in culture off the field.  One of the hardest things to do is to take a step backward to move forward.  Southern and Selinsgrove were growing areas so it was a little easier.  Mount Carmel has always been good and they have been able to maintain, but here have been chinks in their armour over the last several seasons. 

In speaking with Yisreal right after he had been hired, he had said that he wants to make his presence felt in the community.  He also stated that he had been part of top notch high school program, a top university program and was exposed to excellent NFL coaches.  As an undersized D-1 defensive back Yisreal beat the odds to make himself into a quality player and learned the game.  All he asking is he get the same effort from his players.

In measuring a coach, all you have to do ask one question.  Do you want your son to play for Yisreal. The answer is easy and resounding yet. 

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