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Drakes Sports

Bicentennial League: Around the League

Posted Friday, September 03, 2010 by Don Beideman

Family shift. It was once son working for father. Now it's father working for son.

New Jenkintown coach C.J. Szydlik formerly served as an assistant to his father, Chalie, at North Catholic. That changed with the closing of North Catholic at the end of the 2009-10 school year.

For C.J. Szydlik, it was just a matter of scale change. Bicentennial Athletic League member Jenkintown, a Class A school, has a male student population of fewer than 100. On the other hand, North was a Class AAAA school with more than 500 male students when it closed.

How C.J. Szydlik ended up as his father's boss is another story.

"Knowing that North was closing, my father and I had accepted positions at St. Joseph's Prep," C.J. Szydlik said. "Then a friend told me about the opening at Jenkintown. Two weeks later, I got the job."

He then asked his father to be one of his assistants.

"He wasn't so sure," the younger Szydlik said, "but I convinced him."

The new Drakes coach takes over a team that went 3-7 last season. Szydlik greeted 40 players at preseason workouts.

With seven starters back on offense and defense, Szydlik inherits a number of experienced players who will be keys to turning the record around.

Heading the list are Jack Kinniry, David Castner, and Kevin Hull. The 5-foot-8, 160-pound Kinniry is a three-year starter at running back. He's also a defensive back. Castner (6-6, 205) and Hull play both ways, too, the former on the line and the latter at quarterback and strong safety.

Fluctuating enrollment. Lower Moreland's school population has been up and down over the seasons, said coach Mark Mayson, a fixture at the school for 29 years.

"We've been as high as 1,000, as low as 400," said Mayson, who also serves as a school administrator and as athletic director. "We're now about 600."

The Lions had one of their best seasons last year, finishing 7-4 and reaching the PIAA Class AA playoffs before losing to Bok of the Public League.

Quarterback Frank Gleason, a key to running the Lions' balanced offense, returns. Senior fullback Sean Duffy, who also serves as a defensive tackle, and defensive back/tight end Tom Parisse are other key players.

He's gone now. Calvary Christian coach Mike Reichenbach watched as his son Mike grew up and passed the popular, ex-Eagles linebacker in height. The younger Reichenbach led the Cougars as quarterback for four seasons. Now, the older Reichenbach has a hole to fill following his son's graduation.

He doesn't have a hole at running back, however, with the return of Ian Richardson. Richardson ran for more than 1,200 yards last season as the Cougars went 8-2 and reached the PIAA playoffs before losing to now-closed St. Pius X. Jake Heilman, another running back, returns, along with Chris Bires, a wide receiver.

Get a skill. Bristol coach George Gatto tells his players that they should develop special skills, and not just for the football field. The veteran of 28 seasons with the Warriors practices what he preaches.

"I can do construction work installing windows," Gatto said. "I ask my players what's wrong with having a skill."

Gatto is encouraging one of them, running back Tyree Barnes, to go to culinary school. Before Barnes goes, though, Gatto is counting on the 5-9, 165-pound senior to help the Warriors at running back and defensive back.

"We need to learn how to win the close ones," said Gatto, whose Warriors went 6-4 last season. "If we had won a couple of the close ones we had, we could have been 8-2."

Sleeping Bulldogs? That's how Gatto describes Bicen foe Morrisville.

"They could be a big surprise," Gatto said of the Bulldogs.

He considers quarterback Matt Cookson one of the best in the area. Cookson has all-league wide receiver Julian Walker back. Running back Orlando Tirado and offensive tackle/linebacker Austin Crist also should play key roles for Morrisville.

"Depth is our big issue," Bulldogs coach Jim Gober said.

   - Don Beideman

Read more: http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/high_school/20100901_Bicentennial_League__Around_the_League.html#ixzz0yTGPiChd
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