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Drakes Sports

Szydliks look to bring success to Jenkintown

Posted Friday, September 03, 2010 by Mike Prince

It’s been nearly a complete 180-degree turn for C.J. Szydlik.

The brand new 34-year-old head coach for Jenkintown football spent his last six seasons as the assistant coach for North Catholic, where he worked below his father, Charlie, as the team’s assistant coach and defensive coordinator.

The Falcons, a Class AAA team who are no longer in existence after North Catholic shut down earlier this year, were a 7-4 team, fighting for a Catholic League championship with their 55-man roster.

Now, the father-and-son combo has switched roles, and C.J. has stepped up to take the reins above his father as the leader of the Drakes, following the resignation of former Jenkintown coach, Hal Smith, who took a job as an assistant coach at Cheyney University.

C.J. will now have his father assisting him for Jenkintown – a Class A team that finished last year only 3-7 overall. He will have to work with only 37 players, using many on both sides of the ball and trying to manage with what he has in front of him.

“It’s definitely going to be more of a challenge, but it allows me to use the coaching aspect more and that brings back the little things which make coaching fun,” Szydlik said. “We didn’t have a home field at (North Catholic) and we practiced on a back lot with grass and dirt. The facilities here are fantastic compared to where I’m coming from.

“The competition might have been better before, but I’m looking forward to facing new teams and meeting new players and coaches.”

The Falcons played their home games at Northeast High School (super sight), which has one of the best fields in the area, but Szydlik is looking forward to coaching a team that plays at its home school.

Szydlik, 34, has been playing football since he was on the Frankford Boys’ Club while playing youth football. He played defensive end for less than one year at East Stroudsburg University before injuring his shoulder. He eventually became the assistant coach at Frankford High School, where he stayed for four years before moving on North Catholic.

While he will be making some obvious changes to the Drakes’ gameplan, he plans on keeping the system nearly the same to what Smith implemented in his team there – a run-first offense.

“I plan on coaching pretty much the same way as I have and I don’t plan on having a full makeover of anything,” Szydlik said. “We’ve been teaching down to the basics because we want to get them going from all places. Rotations will be different, because we have to play so many kids two ways, but I think we bring a pretty good and tough brand of football.”

Playing two-way football is nothing new for most of the Drakes’ players.

Last season, almost every starter on offense also took defensive snaps on a regular basis. Aden Twer, who has since graduated, played on special teams, offense and defense and was on the field for almost every play. The same went for most of the offensive and defensive line and the same went for current senior running back, Jack Kinniry.

It’s a lot to ask a player to tough it out for an entire drive on one side of the ball and then go right back out just seconds later to play on the other side of the ball, but Jenkintown tries to make the best of its current situation.

Kevin Hull, who, other than being a safety, will be the full-time starting quarterback for the Drakes this year, understands his role on the team as a two-way player and says he really likes what Szydlik has brought to the table after a few weeks of practice.

“I think (Szydlik) is a very good coach and the whole staff has a whole bunch of experience and they know what they’re doing,” Hull said. “It’s a different experience to have new coaches going into your last year of high school, but it really gives you a different feel because of the tempo and the style of practice is different. Change is all right and the team is going to adjust well and we already have begun adjusting.”

The Saturday before the opening weekend of the fall 2010 season, Jenkintown, along with four other schools, will take part in a Bicentennial League scrimmage at Academy New Church.

On Friday, the Drakes will visit Springfield for its first game of the season.

Jenkintown has a new coach, several new starters and it even changed the look of the mascot on the team helmet. But the only thing that Szydlik plans on changing is the success of the team, which he plans on improving.

“These guys work really hard and when I first got here, they all came right into the weight program and looked really crisp,” he said. “I have high expectations and we’ll be competitive over time. I’m just really looking forward to getting out there this Saturday.”


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