Jun. 16—Assistant football coaches Tim Sasson and Ryan Lehmeier were left searching for new jobs when their time together at Pine-Richland abruptly ended. So, they offered themselves as a packaged deal to any school needing an offensive line coach and an offensive coordinator.
They found their fit at Seneca Valley.
The school board hired both assistants Monday night to join Ron Butschle's coaching staff. The Raiders needed a line coach after last year's coach resigned, but Butschle wasn't necessarily in the market for a new offensive coordinator.
Until now, that was his job.
"For as long as I can remember, I've been the offensive coordinator," Butschle said. "But after meeting with Ryan and Tim, I realized pretty quickly having Ryan coordinate the offense was going to make us better."
With Lehmeier as offensive coordinator, Pine-Richland went 48-5 in four seasons with three WPIAL titles and two state championships. Sasson is entering his 19th season of WPIAL football including the past 10 at Pine-Richland.
Yet since April, both were in limbo after Pine-Richland's administration didn't renew coach Eric Kasperowicz's contract.
"I didn't have a (coaching) job, and I needed a job," said Lehmeier, who declined comment on the situation at Pine-Richland. "I'm really thankful for the opportunity from Coach Butschle and (athletic director) Ms. Heather Lewis. I'm very appreciative to work for Seneca Valley."
The two officially join offseason workouts Monday.
"After the situation at Pine-Richland, it was a great opportunity to move on," Sasson said. "I feel like Seneca Valley is very close to getting over the hump, and I want to be a part of that.
"I didn't want to take a year off. I wanted to find an opportunity where Ryan and I could go together and stay with the same offense. Seneca Valley welcomed us with open arms."
Neither coach will teach at Seneca Valley. Lehmeier teaches at Pittsburgh Public Schools, and Sasson is a teacher at Carlynton. But after becoming friends at Pine-Richland, the two decided they'd keep coaching together, wherever that might be.
"I told him I couldn't see myself ever coaching without him," Lehmeier said. "He's the absolute best at what he does. Aside from being just a dynamite person, he is a dynamic teacher of the game."
Along with coordinator duties, Lehmeier will coach Seneca Valley's quarterbacks. Sasson ranked Lehmeier among the top offensive minds he knows.
"Ryan is the best I've ever heard talk about offensive football," Sasson said. "Some of the things he has put in place are so far above and beyond anything I've seen at this level."
Pine-Richland went undefeated last season while winning WPIAL and PIAA Class 5A titles. At Seneca Valley, they join a team that went 4-3 in a season shortened by covid-19 issues, but fought through multiple shutdowns to qualify for the WPIAL Class 6A playoffs.
With a new coordinator and line coach, Butschle said his offense will look different this fall.
"Scheme-wise, it's similar stuff," he said, "but how we go about doing things is going to be different. I'm pretty excited about it. A couple of months ago, this was something I never expected. But I feel like the stars kind of aligned, and I feel very lucky to have both of them."
Before Pine-Richland dropped to Class 5A last season, the Rams typically played Seneca Valley at least once every season, so the new coaches are already familiar with the team. They met in the 2018 WPIAL 6A championship at Heinz Field.
"Seneca Valley has a lot of the same characteristics that Pine-Richland did," Sasson said. "The kids are outstanding. They want to learn."
In recent years, Pine-Richland's quarterbacks have often ranked among the WPIAL's top passers. The Rams had a prolific air attack, an approach likely to follow the assistant coaches to Seneca Valley, but Lehmeier said he'll tailor Seneca Valley's offense to the players on the roster.
"We'll work to their strengths and do what they do best," he said. "I'm excited to get to work."
For two months, Sasson and Lehmeier weren't certain where — if anywhere — they'd be coaching this fall.
Some in the Pine-Richland community had held out hope Kasperowicz would be rehired, meaning his assistants would return as well. But the district has already hired a new head coach, choosing Steve Campos, previously an offensive assistant at Seneca Valley.
"When the Seneca Valley opportunity came about, that's what made it time to move," Sasson said. "Going to a school like that, having the opportunity to win, having the opportunity to coach great players and great kids and great families. That was the most enticing thing to me."
Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .