(Photo Cred: Philly.com)
Neumann-Goretti High School has an opening for their head coaching position after being led for only 1 year by former coach Dan Concannon.
This may come as a surprise to some who follow high school football in the city of Philadelphia but probably not to those who follow Neumann-Goretti football a little more closely.
Dan Concannon was a great guy as I got to know him from being around the program as the film guy but his inexperience as a head coach seemed to be his downfall at NG.
Neumann finished the year 2-9 going 0-4 in the Catholic League Class AA Division giving up an astounding 342 points against their competition.
The Saints started the season well enough with a 38-0 win against Concannon’s former team Valley Forge Military Academy. A tough loss at home against Ryan was followed by an even tougher loss in a Thursday night tilt against Cardinal O’Hara losing 39-36.
The wheels started to come loose the next week when the Saints got blown out by Egan-Conwell 32-0. That loss was followed with losses to West Catholic, Bonner-Prendie and Bishop McDevit by a combined total score of 128-20.
The team followed that up with a rematch against West Catholic where the Burrs defeated the Saints 46-o in the Catholic AA semi-finals. West was motivated by the fact that it was Neumann who stopped their string of Catholic AA titles last year.
Neumann-Goretti finished their season with a matchup against longtime rival South Philadelphia High School and many would have thought a win in the annual Thanksgiving day tilt would be enough to save Concannon’s job. The Saints got the win but the outcome was not enough to give Concannon a chance to build the program back into the powerhouse it was the year before when NG was a Catholic and City titleist before losing to Dunmore in the PIAA State playoffs.
We can only speculate why Concannon was let go after only 1 year but my gut tells me that AD Chalie Szydlik, the Head Coach who led the Neumann-Goretti Saints to their most successful year in a long time, may have felt that Coach Concannon was too inexperienced. The fact that he also surrounded himself with coaches who were more or less the same age with the same experience level didn’t help.
Although 30 isn’t necessarily too young to be a head coach, Concannon may have been better served if he had at least one assistant who was more familiar to the ins and outs of being a head coach. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard the phrase “all I want to do is coach football”. In fact Concannon’s predecessor and current boss AD Szydlik was heard muttering the phrase when this writer was an assistant at Szydlik’s last stop, North Catholic.
One of the biggest things a head coach has to deal with is dealing with the parents of the players. Not only the parents but on game day it’s the parents, brothers, sisters and any others who seem to be a bit more than interested observers. The sideline can be the target of some very nasty and very personal verbal hand grenades. Just because it’s high school that doesn’t mean that the “Philly fan” can’t use his arsenal in that arena. Some may see it as a type of proving ground for when they attend Eagles, Phillies, Sixers or Flyers games and after all this is South Philly we’re talking about. The Saints home field at 10th and Bigler literally sits in the shadow of the Linc!
High school coaches AND from time to time players are also subjected to the social media wizards who troll on sites like PAPREPS and PAFOOTBALLNEWS. I have seen some of the nastiest and wittiest insults about high school coaches that would rival any message board dealing with NFL coaches.
I’m not saying that Concannon couldn’t handle these things because by all accounts he seemed like he could. This is a guy who lost his father at a young age and went on to excel at Inside Linebacker at Ursinus. That kind of loss has got to give a kid a little thicker skin and build a toughness inside that a few comments raining down from the stands can repel.
Coach Concannon wasn’t helped by the transfer of Aamir Brown to Imhotep Charter. Brown saw alot of action in the playoffs for a state title team and losing that kind of talent can be a backbreaker when numbers are limited in the first place. At times it seemed like Neumann-Goretti had more cheerleaders on the field than players (not an exaggeration, I counted one game).
So in the end whether it was a lack of experience, lack of production or a combination of the two or whether it was just a philsophical difference between the administration and Coach Concannon we may never know. What I do know is that Dan Concannon will most definitely stay in the game. It’s in his blood. He will surface on a sideline somewhere in the Delaware Valley and he will make the adjustments he needs to make. Gain the experience he needs to gain and one day in the not to distant future reappear as a head coach better and more prepared than he was last year for the Neumann-Goretti Saints.