New coach brings high energy to upstart Bears
There was a noticeable spring in the Bears’ step on what turned out to be a picture-perfect Thursday morning. Thepads popped harder, first-year head coach TJ Miller was chest-bumping his way through a highly-energized morning session and Jerry Kapp provided the highlight that lit up the end of practice, crushing his teammate during kickoff return drills.
The hope is to reverse the struggle Boyertown has been plagued with in the past five seasons, accumulating only one winning season (7-4 in 2013) before slipping to 3-7 in a rather forgettable 2016 campaign. Seeing the energy during the morning session, it’s evident that Miller and the players believe the time is now to right the ship.
“It’s hard not to be excited about the things going on in Boyertown right now,” Miller said. “The kids that we have out are working hard and we’re excited about things that we have in place to take Boyertown to the level that we think they can be at.”
“The atmosphere for this year is greater than it was the last few years,” Boyertown senior returning lineman Jake McMenamin said. “When we go to practice we know we’re going to have a good time. The last few years going to practice felt like a drag, it felt like work. This has been fun. I like where this is going.”
Miller, after having served as assistant football coach at Penn Manor and Governor Mifflin and, most recently, offensive coordinator at Muhlenberg the past two seasons, has brought the vaunted triple option attack with him, the Bears becoming the only team in the league to run the old-school offense. It fits the Bears well (128.5 rushing yards per game last season) as they return McMenamin and senior Ayden McGrath to the line with running back Marcus Thomas coming back after rushing for 317 yards and three touchdowns on 71 touches last season. Kapp returns and will split time at quarterback and receiver while Ayden Mathias looks to have his role heightened at the quarterback position after breaking through in last year’s year loss to Perkiomen Valley, rushing for 116 yards on 14 carries in the absence of the injured Kapp.
“It’s a change.” Miller said of the shift to the option attack. “Teams don’t see it every week and they have to get ready for it and it’s harder to replicate in practice.”
More than the game itself
Arguably the premier aspect in football is the way the game translates to life situations. Miller and his staff are working hard, not only to prepare the team for Week 1’s contest against Upper Perkiomen, but for challenges that may come down the road.
“We all know there’s going to be growing pains with a new system and a new coaching staff, but we tell our kids that that’s life,” Miller said. “There are going to be times that it gets hard and doesn’t go your way but how do you overcome that? That’s what we try and do. We try and translate what we do in football to life.”
Boyertown head coach TJ Miller talks to his team after the first session of practice last Thursday. Miller has brought a ton of energy as he looks to build the Bears back into a PAC contender.