KINGWOOD — Mark Deep, Preston’s new football coach, doesn’t teach at PHS, but the man is more-than-accustomed to handling challenges.
Heck, he even works at the Mountaineer Challenge Academy — and he insists he’s ready to face this one head-on.
Deep played high school football in Pennsylvania at Connellsville and Chartiers Valley, then moved on to Potomac State, where an unfortunate automobile accident ended his playing career. But he knew he’d end up coaching — it’s perhaps even a genetic trait that runs strong throughout his family tree.
“My granddad, my dad, a bunch of uncles, and cousins … all are football coaches,” he said. “So yeah, after my playing days were done — even though they got taken away quicker than I’d hoped. I kinda knew that I’d end up on the sidelines sooner rather than later.”
So, what did the new guy get himself into? Deep knew he certainly wouldn’t have to start from scratch.
“I have been watching what (former coach Jonathan Tennant) has been doing from afar,” Deep said, “and I knew he ran a nice, tight program, and that he was a real stand-up guy. He moved the program forward, and now I’m excited about the opportunity to continue the progress.”
While there will be similarities in schemes from the previous regime on both sides of the ball, Deep is concentrating much of his effort to learn the capabilities of the players he has, and fit the playbook to their strengths.
“I think it’s a balancing act between changing everything right away, giving the kids too much too soon, and making sure that we are establishing a whole new mindset,” he said. “I think the kids have been fantastic, and welcoming, and they’re putting in the work and battling every day to get better and understand what we need from them. It’s a process, and it’s going well so far.”
According to senior offensive tackle/middle linebacker Chase Blaney, the transition has been smooth and reinvigorating.
“I really liked the old coaching staff,” he said, “but once we heard the news, we all were ready for a new approach. Our position coaches are teaching us something new every day, new techniques to put in our toolbox, and learning more about the game is always fun, especially when the new stuff works. We’re ramped and ready to go.”
On the defensive side of the line, fellow senior Tyler Jeffries agrees with the guy he’s been butting helmets with in practice since they were freshman.
“We were definitely surprised when we heard the news,” he said, “but once coach Deep got here, he’s made everyone comfortable. Practices are a little more relaxed, with maybe more teaching involved. No matter who’s on the sidelines, our team is ready to give everything we’ve got this season. It’s the seniors’ last year, and I know we’ll leave it all out there on the field every Friday night.”