Blogs > The Best of Don Seeley's Columns

Former Mercury sports editor Don Seeley passed away in June 2013 from a heart attack. For more than a decade Seeley wrote about local sports. Featured here are his columns that were previously printed in The Mercury.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Coynes seeking own happiness

There should be some interesting dinner table conversations at the Coyne home in Royersford this week (as if there haven’t been a few already this season, or year for that matter).

Father Hank is the line coach at Owen J. Roberts. Son Hank is the starting quarterback at Spring-Ford. Linda Coyne, the wife of Hank Sr., and mother of Hank Jr., is the peacemaker – the referee, if you will. Mom, with some help from daughter Emily (who hardly gets a word in), tries to keep the football conversations to a minimum and her beloved’s egos as far away from one another like she does the meat and potatoes on the plates in front of them.

Thus far, it’s reportedly been friendly family bantering between father and son. Something along the lines of, “How was practice today, son?” and “Things went pretty good, dad.”

But this week, with Owen J. Roberts visiting Spring-Ford on Friday night to kick off both teams’ Pioneer Athletic Conference seasons, don’t think it won’t be an emotional evening for both.

“First of all, it’s not about Coyne versus Coyne, it’s about the ’Cats versus the Rams,” coach Coyne said. “But everything right now is like top secret in our home.”

Understandably so, too.

Hank Sr. is the veteran offensive and defensive line coach for OJR. He has a very experienced and very good group of ’Cats up front, and along with head coach Tom Barr he’s been mapping out a game plan to not only stop Spring-Ford’s run game but also the passing game … son Hank Jr.’s passing game, that is.

Nothing like scheming a blitz or two to sack your own son.

“Hank asked me how our coaches meeting went on Sunday night and I told him, ‘Fine,’ ” Hank Sr. said. “He asked me how our meeting with the kids went on Monday and I told him, ‘Fine.’ He asked me if we put anything in for the game and I told him, ‘Show up Friday night and you’ll see.’

“I have to look at it as just another game on the schedule. But it’s sure interesting.”

Actually quite interesting … because it seems everyone is ganging up on dad for the 55th renewal of the always energized series between Owen J. Roberts and Spring-Ford.

“I’d like to think everything has been low-key, but it hasn’t been,” Hank Sr. said. “Everybody in the house, even our dogs, is for Junior. We had a cookout over the weekend and I had to hear how everyone around here is rooting for Junior. I don’t even know what I did to my neighbors.”

Coach seems to forget those neighbors (good-natured neighbors, of course) are Ram fans.

Except for this week, Coach Coyne just may be one, too.

“The other night Junior asked me if I would watch his game film on his computer,” Hank Sr. explained. “Before we sat down, he asked me if I was going to watch as a coach or as his father. I told him, ‘As your father.’ That meant a lot to me. I’m probably Junior’s worst critic, but he wanted my comments as his dad.

“Hey, I’m happy for him. He’s part of the resurgence at Spring-Ford and I’m very proud of what he’s accomplished so far. And what his entire family is most proud of is how he’s keeping it all in perspective.”

The Coynes aren’t the first family from the area forced to split their loyalty between rival high school teams.

Not too long ago, Bill Shirk Jr. was the quarterback at Phoenixville while his dad, Bill Shirk Sr. – once the head coach at Phoenixville – was an administrator at Spring-Ford. Before that, brothers Ross and Matt Pennypacker were playing for Spring-Ford and, of course, trying to beat their father, Rick Pennypacker, the head coach at Pottsgrove.

Back in 1988, Jim Tsakonas was the head coach at Pottstown – his alma mater – and guiding the Trojans to a share of the Pioneer Athletic Conference title while his son, Adam, hung out on the sidelines and helped tote the water bottles onto the field during timeouts. A dozen or so years later, Tsakonas was sitting in the bleachers hooting and hollering for Adam, a two-way starter at Boyertown, and the Bears.

There have a few father-and-son teams, too, in the PAC-10.

In other words, friendly – if not fiery – chit chats at the dinner table.

Among the first were Great Valley head coach Hal Honig and his son Jason, a receiver and defensive back for the Patriots. Then there was Lansdale Catholic head coach Jim Algeo and his son John, the Crusaders’ quarterback. A couple of years later there was the late Ron Reed, an assistant at St. Pius X, where his son Scott – now the head coach at Perkiomen Valley – was an outstanding fullback and linebacker. And not so awfully long ago there was Ed McCann, the head coach at St. Pius X, keeping an eye on his son Zach, who doubled at fullback and linebacker for the Lions. And just last year, St. Pius X head coach George Parkinson was helping his second son, Cole, make the right calls at quarterback.

So it wouldn’t surprising at all to hear that a lot of coaches – perhaps even a few of their sons – had an occasional Alka Seltzer after a dinner during their football careers.

And if Linda Coyne can’t keep her “Hanks” under control this season, she may want to send them both up to the Bodolus’ home in Birdsboro a few times a week to eat. It may be a wee bit friendlier (don’t bet on it) atmosphere.

Dave Bodolus, the former head coach at St. Pius X, is in his eighth year as Daniel Boone’s head coach. He hasn’t had a losing season since he took over the program, thanks in part to a few quarterbacks – namely Chris Bokosky, Casey Smith and Jon Monteiro – who threw their way into the Blazer and Berks County record books.

Well, Monteiro just graduated, and guess who inherited that spot? You got it – son Tommy.

“He knows he’s going to have to get it done and he’s ready,” Coach Bodolus said before the season kicked off a few weeks ago.

So far so good for the Bodolus clan (and the Blazers). Tommy has hit on 31 of his 49 passes for 378 yards, not one interception and seven touchdowns … and Daniel Boone is 2-0.

Another happy football family.


The Pioneer Athletic Conference officially opened its 25th season last Friday night when Pope John Paul II visited Pottsgrove. The league kicks off its first full card of the fall this Friday, with five games – the two biggies being Pottsgrove’s visit to Boyertown and Owen J. Roberts’ visit to Spring-Ford. The three others feature Methacton visiting Pottstown, Pope John Paul II traveling to Phoenixville, and Upper Perkiomen coming down Route 29 to take on Perkiomen Valley.

PAC-10 teams, led by spotless 2-0 marks by Boyertown and Spring-Ford, went a combined 11-7 in the preseason, or against non-league opponents.


The Hill School kicks off its 124th season of football Thursday afternoon at home against Germantown Academy.

Germantown Academy, incidentally, was the first football program in all of Pennsylvania, beginning in 1886. The following year, Hill School – along with Episcopal Academy, Haverford School, Penn Charter and Central High (Philadelphia) – followed with teams of their own.

Despite their early beginnings, GA and Hill have met just 29 times. The Rams own an 18-11 lead in the series.


There are 20 teams in the District 1-Class AAA bracket this year and next. But for this season, if anyone’s (and there are a few of us) looking ahead to the all-new playoffs, it’s interesting to note that only four teams – Bishop Shanahan, Interboro, Pottsgrove and Upper Moreland – have managed to get off to 2-0 starts. Shanahan, of course, is a surprise after shocking longtime AAA power Bayard Rustin, which has moved up to the AAAA bracket. Interboro and Pottsgrove, which needed overtime to settle their district championship showdown last year, aren’t surprises. Neither is Upper Moreland, which has reached the postseason the past two seasons.

Exactly half the bracket’s entries – including Phoenixville, Pottstown and Upper Perkiomen – have split their first two games. The remaining six are 0-2 and will need to turn their fortunes around in a hurry to amass enough points and sneak into the expanded eight-team playoff bracket.


That’s what both Pottstown’s Brett Myers and Upper Perkiomen’s Keith Leamer had to be thinking … only not rain showers but those dreaded flags falling out of the skies.

Myers watched his Trojans get hit with 16 penalties – two shy of the area record – and Upper Moreland was whistled for 11 more. That’s a combined 27 for 214 yards. And Leamer watched his Indians get hit with 13 and Upper Dublin with 11, both of which added up to 24 penalties for 181 yards. Wow… two games with 51 penalties for 395 yards.


Owen J. Roberts’ Ryan Brumfield became only the second area running back to go over the 900-carry career mark and the area’s first player to go over the 7,000-yard career total offense mark with his big game against Reading last Friday night. A senior, Brumfield needs three touchdowns to become the first area player to hit the 500-point mark for his career. … Pottsgrove’s Maika Polamalu scored four times last week and is now at an even 300 points in his career. The senior back has 49 touchdowns and three two-point conversions. … Think Ronnie Gillespie is the area’s No. 1 deep threat? Just a junior, Gillespie has caught eight passes for 258 yards and taken four of them into the end zone. Oh yeah, he also has a 99-yard kickoff return. … Though their stats may not reveal much yet, Pope John Paul has an exciting and potentially productive threesome in quarterback Dave Cotellese, tight end Nate Breidenbach and wideout Jacob Gribb – all juniors. … Coach of the Week honors go to Spring-Ford’s Chad Brubaker after the long bus ride to Georgetown, Del., and 27-7 win over Sussex Tech, giving the Rams their first 2-0 start since 1999 – when they opened with wins over Exeter and Abington. … Player of the Week honors get shared this time around between Boyertown quarterback Dylan Pasik (7 of 9 for 231 yards and three touchdowns) and Pottsgrove’s Polamalu (13 carries for 156 yards and four touchdowns).

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