MORGANTOWN — It isn’t often a veteran high school football offensive coordinator gets so emotional after a play that he starts to tear up a little on the sidelines, especially during a preseason scrimmage. But for University assistant coach Eric Snyder, who returned to the UHS program after stepping away in 2018, it’s all about family, both then and now.
“I started at UHS as an intern back in 2002 when I was attending WVU; I was in charge of the toolbox,” he said. “Over the next 15 years, I coached on both sides of the ball as position coach as well as defensive coordinator, and I loved every minute of it, but I also realized that I was just missing too much time with my family, especially my stepchildren.”
However, two years ago, Snyder’s stepson Luke Hudson decided he wanted to try tackle football (after playing flag football and other sports), and then last year, Hudson approached him with a request that even now, lights up his stepdad’s eyes.
“He told me he wanted me to be his coach,” Snyder said, “and I was like, ‘Okay,’ but that was really something special for sure.”
Of course, Snyder still needed to be hired, so he approached his old boss, and long-time Hawks head coach John Kelley had to think about it — for about three seconds.
“When Eric told me he had to step down, it was devastating,” Kelley said, “because he is such a great coach, both from a football point of view and as a mentor for the kids. But I also supported him 100%, because putting your family first is what every father should do. So, when he told me he’d like to come back this year — well, it was like having a son return home. It feels very comfortable having him here, like he never left, and I guarantee we’ll be a better football team because he’s back.”
“I’ve been on cloud nine since the flex practice days in June,” Snyder said, “I’ve missed being around John, being around football, and it’s been so much fun. And with all the weapons we have on offense, and our depth and experience, I kind of feel like I won the lottery as an offensive coordinator.”
So, about that play — it happened during the Hawks’ final scrimmage against Laurel Highlands the Saturday before their season opener against John Marshall.
During the second quarter, with his stepson commanding the UHS offense, Hudson was flushed out of the pocket, scrambled left toward the sideline, then alertly spotted his wide receiver, Sage Clawges, breaking off his short pattern and breaking open behind the cover corner. Head up, eyes up, the young QB delivered a pass perfectly in stride to Clawges, who did the rest of the work for a 72-yard touchdown.
“He’s only been playing for two years,” Snyder said, “and that moment was just so special. I had to grab a player coming off the field, so I could coach him and kind of pull myself back into coach-mode before I completely lost it. It’s all been so positive, and I’m just happy and proud to be back.”