Carmichaels returns to Class A with new coach, momentum
Saturday, August 29, 2020 | 10:00 PM
When Ron Gallagher was promoted to the head coach position at Carmichaels in January, he took over a program with momentum.
One of the biggest reasons things are looking up is a drop in classification. After spending the previous two seasons as the smallest public school in Class 2A football in Pennsylvania, the Mighty Mikes have moved to Class A.
Playing in a conference with the likes of Washington, McGuffey and Charleroi the last two seasons, Carmichaels went 6-12 overall.
“I was talking to schools we were playing that were graduating 160-some kids. We graduated 78 that year,” Gallagher said. “I don’t make excuses. I never do with the team. But it’s definitely challenging when they have double the amount of kids. We’re definitely in a better situation.”
Gallagher’s satisfaction with realignment goes beyond enrollment. He also enjoys the idea of competing against nearby rivals such as Mapletown, Jefferson-Morgan and West Greene in the Tri-County South.
“The one thing we didn’t like about Double A was the travel. We were travelling pretty dang far to play some teams,” Gallagher said. “Now, the kids, they know each other. They joke around with each other. They’re friends, but during the game, they’re playing against each other. It’s nice to get to play some local schools again.”
Beyond realignment, there’s one other significant reason the Mighty Mikes come into this season with momentum. They won their last three games last year.
“It gave our kids some confidence,” Gallagher said. “I saw a different style of playing from some of the players. Our running back, Bailey Jones, for example, he was running very hard those last three games. He’s a very tough kid. Early on, we run a lot of zone scheme and he’d be too patient and he’d wait. But he’s a downhill runner. You get him going north and south and he’s going to ground and pound, for sure.”
Jones will be running behind a line with three returning starters, including senior Nate Sweeney. Senior linebacker Hunter Voithofer will quarterback the defense.
“He’s the leader of that defense. He knows what he’s doing. He helps all the other kids,” Gallagher said. “Coach (Ron) Krull left me a team with leaders and a team culture where they take pride in helping the young ones succeed as well. It’s good for the program to see that kind of work ethic.”
With running quarterback Kevin Kelly graduated, junior Trenton Carter will take over under center.
“He’s a passer. He can throw the ball,” Gallagher said. “He’s got a good head on his shoulders, very smart player, good football IQ. He’s pretty athletic too. We’ll lose a little bit of speed, but he’s not afraid to tuck the ball and take off. That gives us some flexibility in some RPOs and some other things we’ve been doing in practice.”
Gallagher, a middle school principal, takes over as head coach after spending the previous four seasons as the team’s defensive coordinator.
He joked that Krull must have known a pandemic was coming when he stepped down in November after leading the Mighty Mikes to the playoffs in four of seven seasons as head coach. Turning serious, he said Krull left the program in excellent shape.
“It was actually a very, very smooth transition,” Gallagher said. “Coach Krull built a nice culture.”
Coach: Ron Gallagher
2019 record: 4-5, 3-4 in Class 2A Century Conference
All-time record: 494-372-48
Date, Opponent, Time
9.11, Jefferson-Morgan*, 7
9.18, Mapletown*, 7
9.25, at Bentworth*, 7
10.2, West Greene*, 7
10.9, at Monessen*, 7
10.16, California*, 7
10.23, Avella*, 7
*Class A Tri-County South game
Passing: Kevin Kelly*
Rushing: Bailey Jones
Receiving: Michael Robinson*
• There weren’t too many Class 2A teams that faced a tougher five-game stretch of schedule than Carmichaels did between Week 2 and Week 6 last season. The Mighty Mikes met five consecutive playoff teams – Southmoreland, McGuffey, Charleroi, East Allegheny and Washington. Carmichaels scored at least 20 points in three of the games but dropped all five.
• Carmichaels made the playoffs in each of the last three seasons the school competed in Class A, winning a Tri-County South title with an undefeated conference record in 2016.
• Carmichaels is celebrating the 85th anniversary of its first WPIAL title – a shared championship with Glassport after a 6-6 tie in the Class A title game in 1935. Carmichaels also won WPIAL crowns in 1952, beating Wilmerding, and 1962, shared with Rostraver after a scoreless tie in the final game.
• Ron Gallagher, a Yough grad, is in his first year as head coach, but he has an extensive resume as an assistant, including five years at Carmichaels. He also coached nine years at Jefferson-Morgan and a total of three years at schools in Virginia and Maryland.
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review Assistant Sports Editor. You can contact Jonathan by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .
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