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Rival football coaches collab for all-star game

Staff photo / Preston Byers The Ohio all-star team’s players and coaches huddle during the Penn-Ohio Football Classic in Beaver Falls, Pa. on June 20.

BEAVER FALLS — For most of the year, football coaches closely guard plays, schemes and procedures that may give them even the slightest edge on Friday night.

But when it comes time for the coaches to unite and represent the same team, many of the coaches are surprisingly open about helping somebody they may be facing in the fall.

“Even when we get together for the meetings and things of that nature, there are no coaches that kind of hold stuff or kind of say, ‘Hey, we’re gonna not do this or do that,'” Springfield head football coach Sean Guerriero said. “We’re all open, and if I gave them something or he gave us something, again, it’s a great learning experience for the coaches to see how other people do it.”

Many of the area’s top coaches shared Geneva College’s away team sideline last month for the annual Penn-Ohio Football Classic, and for the first time, South Range head coach David Rach served as the Ohio all-star team’s leader.

“I never realized how much goes into preparing for this,” said Rach, who played in the Penn-Ohio game and had served as an assistant twice before. “I appreciate the assistant coaches here and I appreciate our assistant coaches at South Range because so much of that stuff that I don’t think about normally on a game night that comes up, and these guys did a great job of picking up the slack.”

During Ohio’s 28-10 victory, Rach was joined by Guerriero, West Branch head coach Tim Cooper and South Range defensive coordinator Nico Mancuso, among others.

Although Rach admitted to some of his own struggles, Guerriero, who coached Ohio’s special teams, commended Rach for a job well done in preparing the team ahead of the June showcase in Beaver Falls.

“I think Dave set a good tone with making sure that everybody kind of had a role but nobody overstepped any boundaries or their ego never got in the way,” Guerriero said. “It was a good experience.”

Rach explained that with the game taking place in June, he and the other coaches had to remain “flexible” as players graduated from high school and enjoyed the beginning of their summer.

“We had guys missing practice — shoot, we had guys that were working and showing up late from work — that’s a long day,” Rach said. “Part of it’s just you have to go into it understanding these guys. They have commitments in June and they’re gonna be the best they can be when you have them. We tried as far as practices go, just to try to keep it as simple as possible.”

Rach’s approach worked out well, as Ohio took an early lead and pulled away with a strong second half. While the team turned to the run in the second half, Cooper, the team’s playcaller, found success early by passing the ball, which did not go unnoticed by Guerriero.

“Coach Coop, they zing the ball around. He has some great concepts. I got a couple I’ll probably put in this year,” Guerriero said with a laugh.

In addition to the coaches letting down their guard, Guerriero, who said he wanted to “enjoy the experience” of his son Sean playing in the all-star game, remarked at how rival players also came together and embraced each other.

“To see our four [Springfield] kids and South Range — they’re eating dinner together and they’re talking,” Guerriero said. “It’s just a different atmosphere once they grow up and the rivalry is over and they can get to know each other.”

Have an interesting story? Contact Preston Byers by email at pbyers@tribtoday.com. Follow him on X, formerly Twitter, @PresByers.

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