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Written by: Willie McGonigle on Wednesday, October 14th, 2020
Cheltenham’s Ryan Nase and Harry S.Truman’s Ben Johnson share several common bonds. Typically on Friday nights you can find these men guiding their teams into battle against the powers in the Suburban One League. However 2020 has brought these men pain has they are the head coaches of the only two teams in the league who aren’t participating in the fall 2020 football season. But thanks to agreement that was announced last week Nase andJohnson’s teams will join the PAC10 Norristown and the Del Val League (Academy Park, Chester,Chichester, Interboro and Penn Wood) along with District 3’s Reading High. There will be a football season albeit in the Spring of 2021. Tentatively practice for the season is schedule to begin March 1while games will start the weekend of March 12-13 and will feature six games.
“I am thankful that we are able to offer this opportunity to our student-athletes,” said Cheltenham Athletic Director Suni K. Blackwell said in a press release announcing the formation. “Something like this has never been done before, and I’m grateful for the commitment of all the athletic directors involved to make this a reality.”
When asked for comment on Thursday when the news broke Cheltenham running back and St. Francis commit Sam Sykes said “Today’s news is really exciting for me and the guys. We’ve been looking forward to 2020-2021 season since last season ended.”
While there is excitement about the upcoming Spring season there’s still heartbreak about not participating in the fall season especially for Cheltenham who is unable to defend their District 1 5A championship.
While they haven’t been able to play a game both teams are participating in voluntary off season workouts. The Cheltenham players have also been able to gain better knowledge of their playbooks the modern way Thanks to having two defensive coaches that are knowledge of computer program they have been develop a virtual reality game that the players can go on and play that’s similar to Madden but with their playbook. In addition the workouts Nase, some of his staff and players have been volunteering with Beyond the Field a program that is a partnership with ODAAP and Ertz Family Foundation that provides football-related workouts and leadership training to help the replace the normal routine of a typical football season. Johnson and the Tigers will also be joining the program.
For Johnson not having a fall season has giving him the chance to do something that he normally wouldn’t been able to do and that’s watch his step-son Micah a senior at Upper Dublin play. “It’s a blessing that I able to watch him his senior year without missing senior night, having a pretty good season so far.” Johnson said adding “It’s a wonderful thing to be able to watch him his senior year knowing that we are going to play sometime in March I am looking forward to it.
While there isn’t a schedule out yet there certainly will be great matchups with quality teams. “I’m nervous there’s some really good teams in this, there’s some really good games.” Nase said, adding praises bout every team that he could possibly face.
For Johnson the schedule will allow him a chance to coach against teams that he is familiar and to see guys on the opposing sidelines that have been mentors and friends with having served has an assistant at both Chester and Penn Wood prior to taking over Truman.
“There’s coaches on all the Del Val teams that I am great friends with. I’m excited and looking forward to the competition.” Johnson said adding that everybody in the Del Val League is respectful program with great head coaches
One of teams that could end up on the schedule for Truman is Chester, a program that Johnson still holds close to his heart “But for me obviously there’s personal connection with Penn Wood and Chester for me.” Johnson said adding that he spent many years at Chester where he made lot great friends who were either in or were guest at his wedding. “Chester is where it all began for me after moving back, I’ll never forget what I learned at Chester and it’s because of Chester I am in the situation and position that I am and prepared me to be a head coach, I’m forever in debted to the people of Chester.”
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