The Herald, Sharon, Pa.


January 8, 2013

McElhaney steps down as WM head coach

---- — For Jason McElhaney, West Middlesex has been his whole life. However McElhaney has made what he termed “a life decision.”

McElhaney, Middlesex’s head football coach for the past 6 seasons, recently tendered his resignation.

“I talked to my team and told them I didn’t expect them to understand,” McElhaney related. “This is hard for me. I took a long time talking this over with my wife. It’s a difficult decision.

“I’d love to stay.”

McElhaney, an 11th- and 12th-grade social studies teacher, will remain on the WMHS faculty.

While speaking by telephone Monday afternoon, McElhaney was making the daily 100-mile commute to Mars he has driven since last February. His wife, Starla, is employed in Pittsburgh’s South Hills, and Mars served as somewhat of a midway mark. But McElhaney admitted,

“It was hard for me to do everything I needed to do as a head coach with that kind of commute.”

Under McElhaney, the Big Reds recorded back-to-back District 10 Class A title tilt appearances. This past season Middlesex manufactured a 10-3 ledger — the program’s best since the single-season Big Reds’ record 15-1 campaign of 2006 that ended at Hershey in the PIAA championship game.

That ’06 setback on the statewide stage to Southern Columbia served as Brian Hoffman’s swan song. McElhaney, one of Hoffman’s assistants for 3 years, was then promoted. Middlesex mustered a middling 19-21 mark during McElhaney’s first 4 years at the helm.

But the Big Reds blossomed during the past 2 seasons, and 2011 ended with a 7-5 ledger. To McElhaney’s mind, a turning point for the program occurred in Week 8 of that season, a 52-15 blowout at Linesville (now Conneaut Area).

“We talked about it as staff. That was our favorite win ... our first really, really big win at that time,” McElhaney reminisced. “We had been in a rut, and that helped get us out of it.”

That was part of a season-ending 5-game West Middlesex win skein in which the Big Reds roared into the postseason before bowing to Sharpsville in the D-10 title tilt. One of those triumphs was McElhaney’s 1st postseason success as a head coach (Youngsville, 47-0), which he cited as another highlight.

“They (each season) all have their moments,” McElhaney mused, noting this past season’s Region 1-A crown, before summarizing his tenure thusly:

“I enjoyed it. It was a big-time learning experience for me. I was 25 when I got the job and you think you’re ready, but you’re not. But over the years, me maturing and learning how to be head coach and turn the program back in the right direction. It was kind’ve a challenge, but that’s why we coach.

“My administration has been extremely supportive — I couldn’t ask for better,” McElhaney continued. “They gave me the opportunity to coach. And I’ve had some really good players and good teams, and to have had this opportunity, I’m very thankful for it.”

McElhaney played for and graduated from West Middlesex High, then matriculated at Mount Union (College) University, where he was part of a trio of NCAA Division III championship teams (2000-01-02). After graduating from Mount Union in the spring of ’04 with a bachelor’s degree in history/secondary education, he was hired at his alma mater.

“More or less, given the respsonsibility of being a head coach, I didn’t feel like I was being fair to the school,” he noted. “I couldn’t build the program the way I wanted. With the (commuting) distance it was a grind. So, more or less, I’m kind’ve stepping back, maybe’ll take a lesser role somewhere else where I don’t have to carry all the head-coaching responsibility with the commute I have to make.”

“Eventually, I’d like to pursue a teaching job in my new area, but I wanted to do right by West Middlesex and give them the time,” McElhaney emphasized. “I told my team it’s tough, there are no guarantees with teaching jobs, the way things are (economically). But teaching puts food on the table, so as long as I have to make this commute I’ll teach at West Middlesex and maybe coach somewhere else if someone’ll have me.”

Middlesex’s gridiron success during the past decade is attributable, in part, to what McElhaney said was a “coaching tree.” However he emphasized that he would not consider remaining on Middlesex’s staff as an assistant as it would creat an “awkward and unfair” situation for his successor.

“It’s a pretty solid job. Good kids and good players, so I think there should be some good (coaching) candidates,” McElhaney said. “The way the job has been passed down, from coach (Rick) Resatar, who had coach Hoffman on his staff ... to Brian taking over and having me on his staff ... then I took over.

“That ‘tree’ of coaches, if you will, has helped the program a little bit.”

The daily drive from West Middlesex to Mars — “door to door,” as McElhaney charaterized it — is 100 miles. But no matter where he teaches and coaches, you won’t be able to take West Middlesex out of the man.

“It’s all I’ve ever known,” McElhaney admitted. “I grew up there, played there, served as an assistant coach, then head coach. This is not an easy decision, by any means. It’s been a very difficult decision.”

Text Only
  • SPORTVIEW: Johnny Football claims he has learned from his 'rookie mistakes'

    HERE ARE some thoughts from a guy who might have made a few “rookie mistakes” in his life, ala Johnny Manziel.
    Johnny Football admitted this past week that he made some rookie mistakes. Really?
    Usually rookie mistakes for most NFL newbies are throwing into coverage or fumbling the football because you don’t tuck it tightly to your side.

    July 27, 2014

  • NFL NOTEBOOK: Ex-Sharon star Austin hopes to spark Lions' defense

    THE TALENTED — albeit underachieving — Detroit Lions commence camp July 27 in Allen Park, Mich. as the National Football League prepares for the 2014 season.

    July 21, 2014

  • Fighting cancer Racing to fight cancer

    Former Hickory High athlete Amanda Budzowski is on the run — the run to raise money to fight cancer.
    Budzowski is part of Team in Training, an organization that has raised more than $1.4 billion for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society since forming in 1988. Her division is known as IRONTEAM and she is currently training for the 140.6-mile Ironman triathlon in Mont Tremblant, Canada, in August.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPORTVIEW: Pirates, Indians need fast start after All-Star break

    SO FAR, so good. I’m referring to the start of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cleveland Indians after the All-Star break on Friday night.
    Both teams rallied to win. The Buccos beat the Colorado Joints — err, I mean Rockies — by coming from behind in the 8th inning. Since they legalized marijuana sales in that state, it gave new meaning to John Denver’s song “Rocky Mountain High.”

    July 20, 2014

  • Sky high Rutters earn spot in national motocross event

    The brother-sister racing duo of Elijah and Dannah Rutter of Mercer are set to travel to Hurricane Mills, Tenn., to compete soon in the prestigious 33rd annual Rocky Mountain ATV/MC AMA Amateur National Motocross Championships presented by AMSOIL at Loretta Lynn Ranch.
    Elijah, 18, and Dannah, 16, earned a ticket to the event with their performances at qualifiers and then regionals and are among the top 5 percent of riders in the U.S. Overall, 20,000 hopefuls from across the U.S. competed and there are only 1,446 qualifying spots at nationals.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sharon Football scramble Notebook: Sharon football greats meet, reunite at inaugural golf scramble

    Mid-July, with the temperature 80-plus degrees at Avalon at Buhl Country Club; however, it felt like a fall, football Friday.
    The inaugural Sharon Football Boosters 4-man golf scramble took place recently, and served as a Who’s Who in the Tigers’ triumphant tradition.

    July 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPORTVIEW: All is right with the world - LeBron has come home!

    HAPPY DAYS are here again. The prodigal child has returned!
    The announcement that “King James” is returning to Cleveland has created a level of euphoria not seen since the Browns won the city’s last major sport championship a couple of years ago.
    What’s that? Oh, yeah — make that 50 years ago (1964).

    July 13, 2014

  • LeBron James Full text of LeBron's essay in SI

    LeBron James announced his return to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday in an essay that he wrote for Sports Illustrated. The following is the full text of that essay.

    July 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • Snyder, Gordon, Popatak named to All-State team

    Grove City High’s David Gordon, Sharpsville’s Greg Popatak and Lakeview’s Logan Snyder recently were named to the Pennsylvania High School Baseball Coaches Association all-state team.
    Synder was selected 1st-Team in Class A as a designated-hitter, while Gordon was honorably-mentioned in Class AAA and Popatak similarly was honored in AA. Gordon gained his laurels as a pitcher; Popatak as a 3rd baseman.

    July 10, 2014

  • Oprah lands first interview with Jerry Sandusky's adopted son, Matthew

    Matthew Sandusky, the adopted son of former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, is breaking his silence for the first time since his father's 2012 conviction on 45 counts of child sexual abuse, sitting down with Oprah to tell his story.

    July 8, 2014

  • County champs Little League Tournaments

    Sharon won the District 2 Major Division (12-year-olds) Championship, while Greenville 9-10 and West Middlesex 11 teams notched tournament victories in recent action.

    Hermitage Brennan Chiropractic won the Mercer County 14-under championship recently.

    Following are game reports:

    July 5, 2014 1 Photo

  • John Cook The First Tee of Sharon celebrates 15th anniversary

    Professional golf star John Cook has received many honors and awards in his illustrious career, but probably none mean as much as those similar to the one he received Monday afternoon at The First Tee of Sharon.
    During a special ceremony to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the local program, a permanent plaque was unveiled in his honor describing the contributions he has made to junior golf.

    July 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPORTVIEW: John Cook here Monday for First Tee; other celebs on July 11

    THE RETURN of Tiger Woods to a PGA event sparked a lot of interest this past week. The return of John Cook to Buhl Farm Golf Course Monday will do the same locally.
    Cook, a standout on the Champions Tour and outstanding TV golf analyst, will conduct a clinic at 11 a.m. Monday at the course to help celebrate the 15th anniversary of The First Tee of Sharon program.
    It is open to the public at no charge.

    June 29, 2014

  • Tri-Athletes Hickory honors Tri-Athletes

    Hickory High honored its 2013-14 tri-athletes in a recent ceremony, the latest installment in a program that began in 2003-04.
    Fifty student-athletes (grades 9-12) were cited for having competed in at least one sport in the fall, winter and spring while maintaining a minimum B (85 percent) grade-point-average during the first three 9-week grading periods of the  academic year.

    June 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPORTVIEW: Ex-Greenville man to enter Bedford County Hall

    HUGHEY TATE was the greatest baseball player that ever lived — hitting 10,000 home runs and never making an out in 50 years on the diamond.
    OK, that’s not true of course. But that’s the way Hughey would have told it before bursting into laughter.
    Tate, a Greenville man who was as good at spinning a yarn as well as he was in hitting home runs, will be inducted posthumously into the Bedford County (Pa.) Hall of Fame Saturday. Some of his relatives from this area will attend the ceremonies.

    June 22, 2014

Top 25 (AP Poll)
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter