Maddocks trying to turn around Cougars
Ambitious new head coach making most of 22-player squad
Charlie Maddocks Jr. isn’t backing down from the challenge. He’s meeting it headon.
Kutztown’s new head football coach, 38, could have been excused for flinching before accepting a coaching job that was, frankly, fraught with issues.
Despite snapping an epic 51-game losing streak in 2016 with an improbable threegame winning streak, those victories did not salve dissentions on and off the field with the Cougars. Leading rusher Logan Bachman transferred out. Starting quarterback Brayden Eck declined to come out for what would have been his senior season. Nearly the entire roster, save four, has been turned over.
Into this cauldron stepped Maddocks, the former receivers coach at Lancaster Catholic — a proud diocese program with a history of gridiron success. He moved his family into the Kutztown district and brought his sons Charlie III and Owen along to play for him. Son Charlie, LC’s backup a year ago as a freshman, is the new starting quarterback. Owen is a wide out. It is dad’s first head coaching gig.
“The decision to apply for the job was wanting to be a head coach,” Maddocks said, “having to desire to do this. It had to be a local job.”
The hiring process was a two-way street. Once he felt comfortable with the commitment shown by administration, Maddocks dove in head-first.
“The challenge of it made me excited,” he said. “When I got to the interview process and met with the administration, I saw how thorough they were and how involved they were in the process, I was sold. Meeting these guys and seeing how much they desired to have a successful program — the whole spectrum, not just wins — that was the clincher.
“Now, obviously, I was being interviewed, but at the same I was (also interviewing). Because if they don’t help me, if they don’t give me the support, it would probably end up being the same thing over and over again.”
The catchphrase Maddocks repeatedly used on the turf at Andre Reed Stadium at Kutztown University, following an opening 47-12 loss to Upper Perkiomen on Friday night, was “changing the culture”. Maddocks said it with a straight-forward belief, reflected in his eyes. He believes initial change comes from within, not with personnel or scheme: you change the first, the latter will be positively influenced.
Friday night’s score may not reflect it, but that change has already taken root. Kutztown displayed fight on both sides of the ball for the full 48 minutes, despite being buried for good by a 26-point Upper Perk outburst in the second quarter.
During the summer, Maddocks made camp mandatory. No more shirking and showing up. The new head man showed up with what he thought were 26 commits. That number quickly shrunk to 22 following his mandatory camp declaration. A reveal, if you will.
“I basically said, ‘if you don’t come to summer camp’ — and I had heard that was an issue here before — it’s a four-game suspension,’” Maddocks said. “Now I played at Bensalem. If you didn’t attend camp you didn’t play. But, you’ve got to start incrementally.
“We had guys who didn’t want to come to camp but didn’t want to take the fourgame suspension. I said no. When I asked the players, they said they would rather lose with the 22 they had than win with four more guys. And that’s the culture change. It’s what the kids have bought into.
“A lot of them are kids who had given up on football at Kutztown. They’re coming back. And it’s awesome to see.”
The numbers will have to rise moving forward for sustained success and Maddocks knows this. In the immediate term, in order to nurse his 22-player squad through the season, he has adjusted scheme to personnel quantity. The Cougars switched to a 3-4 defense primarily to be able to rotate the trenches — all seven lineman listed on the active roster go both ways. Offensively, Maddocks prefers an up-tempo attack but realizes a no-huddle would a stamina-killer. So, the Cougars are huddling and taking their time between plays.
“We needed to make adjustments,” Maddocks said. “We switched to the 3-4. I need to give them some sort of breather. Huddling is not what I want to run on offense. I’m a nohuddle guy. But honestly, we’ve spent a lot of time conditioning, even the big guys. We conditioned with weights. Everything I told them about conditioning this summer, they’re feeling it right now.”
The Cougars were able to move the ball at times in the first half against Upper Perk, but a pair of turnovers snuffed out one scoring chance and gifted the other to the Indians. Son Charlie — who would have been the incumbent this fall at Lancaster Catholic — completed 12 of 18 passes for 102 yards and a late score. Owen, a freshman, caught three of those balls for 13 yards. Sophomore running back Caleb Riegel — already a load at 225 pounds — rushed for 88 hard yards on 20 totes with a score while anchoring the linebacking corps on the other side of the ball.
Defensive back Bradlee Benjamin had a second half interception. Tyler Fisher — one of the kids who’s returned to the program after not playing a year ago — played solid defense from his linebacking spot. Drew Miller had a solid game at linebacker and wing back.
Talent is there. Now, the Cougars just need more of it. Maddocks hopes the “culture of change” he’s instituting helps to bump those numbers up.
“There is no ‘try’,” Maddocks said. “We either do it or we don’t. First time I said that to the kids, you should have seen the looks on their faces.
“But now, if you ask any of those 22 kids, they believe it. They believe it.”
Kutztown Football Schedule
Sept. 1 - vs. Upper Perkiomen, 7 p.m. Sept. 8 - at Shenandoah Valley, 7 p.m. Sept. 15 - vs. Pequea Valley, 7 p.m. Sept. 22 - at Nativity, 7 p.m. Sept. 29 - vs. Twin Valley, 7 p.m. Oct. 6 - vs. Schuylkill Valley, 7 p.m. Oct. 13 - vs. Hamburg, 7 p.m. Oct. 21 - at Wyomissing, 1:30 p.m. Oct. 27 - at Berks Catholic, 7 p.m. Nov. 3 - at Fleetwood, 7 p.m.