Monthly Archives: November 2007

Lycoming Coach Frank Girardi, By Comparison

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa.—It’s been said from time to time that Lycoming College’s head football coach Frank Girardi is “the Joe Paterno of Division III football.” And there are definitely similarities. Both coaches are of Italian descent, both are affable and both are intensely passionate about football. Both are situated near the top of the NCAA’s all-time victories list (Paterno is 3rd, Girardi 14th). Both have led a single program over decades to remarkable success. And both reside amid the rolling hills of central Pennsylvania, just an hour apart. Even their team uniforms nearly match, with just a yellow-gold accent distinguishing Lycoming. But, even though the comparison is surely a compliment, to pigeonhole Frank Girardi is to overlook a distinctive legacy and the uniqueness of Division III football.

In 36 years at Lycoming, Girardi has amassed a record of 257-97-5 (.726). Only thirteen college football coaches, regardless of division, have ever won more games. Among active coaches, he ranks fifth, just two places behind Paterno. Girardi has led his Warriors to 13 Middle Atlantic Conference championships and 11 NCAA Playoff appearances. In 1990 and 1997 his teams played for the Division III national championship in the Stagg Bowl. But it’s the spirit that Girardi instills in his players that transcends the football field. It’s a strength of character that his players carry into the rest of their lives.
The likelihood of Girardi’s Warriors reaching the NFL is miniscule. In the world of Division III football, “the pros” are something to watch on Sunday, not a realistic career option. In fact, many of Girardi’s players resemble their fellow students in size. Therefore, each athlete plays mainly for the love of the game and to get a solid education.
Much like Paterno, Girardi coaches his players to graduate as productive young adults. He wants them to be stalwarts of the community. Through football fundamentals, he hopes to teach his players how to prosper in life. Focus your body and mind, keep your head up, strive to be the best. Success is a derivative of hard work and dedication.
To be around “Coach G”, as most players refer to him, is to be inspired. He has a fatherly aura, combined with an indescribable energy that compels players to think, and act, like champions. Maybe that is why every four-year Lycoming player since 1975 has won at least one conference championship. And maybe that’s why former players and coaches return regularly to Williamsport to visit their mentor, who also happens to be their friend.
Current player Ryan Godec describes his first interaction with Girardi. “When I met Coach G, one of the first things he said to me was ‘I’m not worried about your size, because you play with heart.’ He was the only coach who said that to me and I liked how he recognized that. Then I saw the players interact and saw how close everyone is. There aren’t any “cliques” here. Coach teaches us to be a strong unit.”
In the final game of 2005, Girardi became one of only five active coaches to reached 250 career wins. That milestone victory came in fittingly dramatic fashion. After a 1-4 start to the season, the Warriors put together four straight victories leading up to their season-ending showdown with rival Susquehanna University. With not only history, but a winning season on the line, Lycoming took the game into overtime on a last-minute field goal. Girardi’s squad then scored on its first overtime possession and held Susquehanna on downs to preserve the milestone win.
Some longtime fans called it Girardi’s finest coaching performance. With so many illustrious campaigns to choose from, it’s hard to say. With the win, Girardi passed coaching legend Lou Holtz (249) on the all-time list. In 2007, Girardi eclipsed Division I coaching legend Tom Osbourne’s win total (255) and then tied BYU’s LaVell Edwards (257) for 14th place on the list of winningest coaches.
As legendary figures go, “Coach G” has all of the elements. He has etched out a nationally-respected, winning tradition in the town where he was raised. He has guided thousands of players into adulthood, including several of his own children and grandchildren. He is a member of three halls of fame, including the Pennsylvania State Sports Hall of Fame, and he has been named MAC Coach of the Year 12 times. In 1984, Coach Girardi also became Lycoming’s Director of Athletics. And through it all, he continues to instill passion in the hearts of hundreds of young athletes each year.
In the world of Division III football, the name Frank Girardi is synonymous with class and success both on and off of the football field. His legend stands alone, but admittedly it draws comparison to another distinguished coach, one who works just an hour down the road. Just don’t be surprised if you hear someone refer to Joe Paterno as “the Frank Girardi of Division I football.”
By Cotton Mayer – Lycoming College SID

359th Game – Lycoming Falls at Lebanon Valley

The Last Game
Annville, Pa.—Lycoming College’s football team (3-7, 3-4) fell to conference foe Lebanon Valley College (4-6, 3-4) by a score of 28-14 on Saturday, November 10. It was the final game of the 2007 season for both teams.

Lebanon Valley threw a 38-yard completion on its first play from scrimmage, setting up a 14-yard touchdown run by Charlie Parker in the game’s first four minutes. Parker scored four touchdowns on the day, tying a school record. All three scores were followed by Brittany Ryan extra point conversions.

Lycoming freshman Josh Dixon (Fleetville, PA) returned the ensuing kickoff 58 yards, but a personal foul call brought cut fifteen yards off of the run. Nonetheless, freshman quarterback Tim Hook (Harrisburg, PA) hit fellow frosh Ryan Wagaman (Aspers, PA) on a 20-yard completion and the Warriors appeared to be rolling.

However, from the Flying Dutchmen 15 yard line, Hook was intercepted in the end zone by Tim Ridewood, ending the Lycoming threat. Hook was 10 of 22 on the day, but threw three costly interceptions in the first half.

Lycoming went three and out on its next possession and a 19-yard punt by sophomore Brad Shellenberger (Lock Haven, PA) gave LVC the ball in Warrior territory. But the blue and gold defense was stout, as it has been all year, and a tackle-for-loss by senior defensive end Ryan Yaple (Stillwater, PA) set up a third and long for the Dutchmen. Leb Val faked the punt, but Adam Brossman’s pass fluttered incomplete and Lycoming took over the ball at its own 40.

Warrior running back Mark Rosa (Honesdale, PA) put together runs of nine and 14 yards, breaking tackles along the way. But an intentional grounding by Hook, 23 yards behind the line of scrimmage, resulted in a second down and 38 and ultimately another punt just before the end of the first quarter.

Yaple recorded his 14th sack of the year to get the ball back in Lycoming’s hands. Yaple came into the game ranked first the Middle Atlantic Conference and second in the nation in quarterback sacks. He is sixth on the team in tackles, mainly because offenses try to avoid him.

Unfortunately, the Warriors couldn’t get it started in the second period, as Hook’s first pass skipped off the hands of Jimmie Stevenson (Pipersville, PA) and into the arms of Russell DeStefano, who thieved Hook twice on the afternoon.

A facemask call on return set up Leb Val at Lycoming’s 19 yard line. A short burst by LVC’s Parker made the score 14-0 with 11 minutes left in the half.
On the warriors ensuing possession, Rosa gained 10 yards on a draw but fumbled. Luckily Wagaman fell on the ball, preserving a beautiful 41-yard touchdown completion to senior tight end Bill Margetich (Glenolden, PA). Margetich caught the ball in the middle third and put a sweet move on the safety to waltz into the end zone. A Scott Erickson (New Providence, NJ) extra point put the Warriors within seven points.

However, Parker answered on LVCs next possession, exploding on a 40-yard tackle-breaking touchdown scamper that set the score at 21-7 at halftime. The Dutchmen attempted a field goal just before the break, but it was tipped by Wagaman and fell unsuccessfully.

Despite the lopsided score, total offense and time of possession was nearly even for both teams at the half. But turnovers spelled the difference with the Warriors totaling four mishaps in the first two periods. Leb Val received to start the second half, but the drive stalled. Unfortunately, a Hook completion on Lycoming’s next possession was fumbled by senior Ryan Dixon (Dalton, PA), setting up a Dutchmen drive which culminated with Parker in the end zone again.

Warrior running back Josh Kleinfelter (Bellwood, PA) took matters into his own hands on the next possession. The freshman ran the ball nine times, getting as far as Lebanon Valley’s four yard line. The third quarter ended with Lyco threatening, but a fourth down pass into traffic fell incomplete and the Dutchmen took over on downs.

Kleinfelter gained 116 yards on the day, while Rosa racked up 49. The Warriors totaled 197 rushing yards, but suffered futility through the air. Sophomore Colin Dwyer (Dalton, PA) took over at quarterback in the fourth quarter and immediately executed a 46-yard drive that saw Margetich catch his second touchdown reception.

With the score 28-14 and 8:31 still on the clock, Lycoming had to act fast. But the Warriors run-oriented offense, could not ride the momentum to another score. At 3:17, Dwyer took Lyco near midfield from deep in its own territory, but the Warriors turned the ball over on downs and their season ended.
It was a disappointing finale for the seniors, but hope springs eternal for the many first and second year players who gained experience in 2007. Lycoming’s coaching staff is given the challenge of righting the ship this offseason and filling the holes left by graduation. Stay tuned.

Photos Game 359 – Set One

The Last Game:

Photos Game 359 – Set Two