HS FOOTBALL: It's going to be a lot different next fall, four coaches leaving programs

Jan. 23—I was driving around Selinsgrove on Sunday, and I was struck by the silence around Harold L. Bolig Memorial Field.

I spent a lot of the fall watching the Seals state semifinal team, and there was something about silence, and thinking about last season that made me realize how different high school football is going to look — at least for me — in 2024.

I can't remember the last time we've had four coaching openings in this area, and maybe the biggest one came open this week when Selinsgrove coach Derek Hicks announced his plans to step down.

He joins Lance Adams at Midd-West, Jason Dressler at Mifflinburg and Curt Zettlemoyer at Milton, as coaches who submitted their resignations. All of these openings are for different reasons. The Mustangs have struggled the last two seasons, but that's no fault of Adams.

There wasn't much Adams didn't try in attempts to raise money or interest in the Mustangs' program, but the realities of a program in its infancy competing in the Heartland Athletic Conference just isn't realistic.

Zettlemoyer is in a different situation. As the Milton police chief, he stated in August that this was probably his only season as the head coach of the Black Panthers.

The other two on the list — Dressler and Hicks — are both in the same boat. Opponents in the 1992 District 4 Class 3A championship game, both coaches have been involved with their respective football programs since the mid-90s. Both coaches have sons who play or plan to play sports in college, and both felt that this was the right time to step down.

This fall will be my 32nd football season, and I can see that the job of football coach is completely different than it used to be. These guys are stepping away from the sport because of Friday nights in the fall. Gone are the days of football starting when fall practice rolled around. The winter and spring are spent in the weight room, which the coaches often have to oversee. The recruiting season is nearly year-round.

Another thing that sticks out is when Selinsgrove was eliminated last June from the state baseball playoffs on a Thursday, and Hicks mentioned that his Seals would be at full strength on June 10 for a 7-on-7 session at Midd-West High School.

Selfishly I feel like I need to thank all four of these guys for just how cooperative they've all been, even in Zettlemoyer's short time as the head coach. I don't remember any time that these four guys said no for anything I asked. Hicks and his wife, along with former Shikellamy coach Todd Tilford and his wife, posed for our cover photo before Hicks' first season because they were married to sisters.

Dressler helped when our fathers passed away in the same time frame, as he, Tilford and I all wrote about how football and our fathers were connected.

However, I think the people who will miss these coaches the most will be their players. Maybe one of the toughest things to do in this day and age is get kids and parents to buy into a program and wasn't hard to tell the affection most of their players had for these coaches.

Todd Hummel covers high school football for The Daily Item.