Of the six varsity football head coaching positions in Chenango County, three were in need of replacement entering this campaign – a 50 percent turnover. Those new faces on the sidelines; however, are certainly no strangers to football.
Mickey James, a longtime assistant coach at Norwich and Oxford has his varsity debut tonight at home against Holland Patent. Tim Mattingly, an eight-year assistant coach under former guru Steve Rice, leads B-G into Harpursville tonight, and Jack Loeffler, a veteran with 30 years of coaching behind him, has the reins at Unadilla Valley-Edmeston. The Storm, back as an independent, host Newark Valley.
“I’m looking at this no differently than any other game,” James said, who has had his focus elsewhere this week with the passing of his mother last Sunday. “If we play hard, we’ll be okay. We’re starting four sophomores on defense and one kid who has never played before.”
Mattingly has served in the B-G football system for 20 years and is part of the Bobcats’ alumni. In contrast to Rice’s calm demeanor on the sidelines, you’ll see a more fiery, animated individual in the first-year mentor. “There will be some butterflies; I’m excited, but nervous,” he said. “You want things to go well. We did some nice things in the scrimmage and we saw some things we wanted to improve on. We feel we have made some of those improvements in practice.”
Of the three new coaches, Loeffler does indeed have head varsity coaching experience, although that was in nine-man football for South New Berlin in the Tri-Valley League. “The kids are really excited and I have become excited for this game,” Loeffler said. “We had the walk-through today, the emotions have been contagious. “Things didn’t go well last year, but we had some good moments in the scrimmage and the kids are starting to gain confidence.”