He still carries a Lycoming folder that contains play sheets and other information.
Other than that, there is little to remind others that Frank Girardi is a Lycoming College coaching legend. Girardi retired as Lycoming's coach after a remarkable 36-year coaching career that included 257 wins, 13 conference championships and a trip to the Division III national championship. When he retired, Girardi was the fifth among NCAA coaches in career wins, second among Division III coaches.
Girardi probably forgets more football knowledge than most people know and now Loyalsock is reaping those benefits. Girardi is back at the high school level, working as a Loyalsock assistant under first-year coach Justin Van Fleet. The Hall of Fame coach works specifically with quarterbacks and defensive backs, but his knowledge and ability to communicate with coaches and players is helping in all areas as Loyalsock (4-3) already has won three more games than it did last year.
Frank Girardi recently accepted the first Distinguished Alumni Award for Williamsport High School.
"We're blessed to have him. He's a hall of fame coach in the NCAA, not in the local chapter, in the NCAA and that is amazing," Van Fleet said. "To steal one of his phrases it's like cheating. Being a first-year head coach and a crazy 28-year old guy, to have someone like that who has that type of experience is invaluable. The one thing I don't have is a long tenure of experience and you can't make that up, so having him certainly helps. Just having his calm tone is a huge help for everyone."
Instead of roaming the sidelines, Girardi watches games from the press box now. He is the eye in the sky, helping his son Frank Jr. run the offense. Girardi has never been about himself. He coaches for the kids and he always will deflect praise toward his players and fellow coaches, but you do not bring the resume he does to the table and ignore his impact.
Girardi is as sharp as ever and seems to be thinking two or three plays in advance while watching the game. He is ready for every situation and Loyalsock truly has an ace in the hole.
"Coach G teaches us a lot," linebacker/fullback Robbie Newton said following Friday's 42-21 win at Hughesville. "He knows a lot. He's definitely taught me and everyone else a lot."
That is what Girardi does best. That is what made him one of the greatest college coaches ever. That is why so many players past and present value not just what he taught them on the field, but off it as well. Girardi always has made players better and it is happening now at Loyalsock.
Just look at what quarterback Kyle Datres has done while starting at quarterback for the first time. Datres accounted for all six touchdowns Friday and the sophomore has thrown for 916 yards and six touchdowns while running for 652 yards and 15 touchdowns. More important, Datres looks more comfortable each week and is absorbing what he is taught like a sponge.
"Each week working with Coach G is helping a lot," Datres said. "He's helped out a lot. I learn something new every week. He definitely knows what he's talking about and he helps out a lot. I don't think we'd be as successful this season if we didn't have him."
Van Fleet agrees. Make no mistake, Van Fleet is doing an outstanding job in his first season. His enthusiasm is contagious and before the season even started, he had dramatically increased Loyalsock's numbers and had them hitting the weight room on a consistent basis. He has surrounded himself with solid coaches but one cannot ignore the presence of a college Hall of Famer.
He wears different colors now, but Girardi is still making a big impact.
"He's an amazing coach," Van Fleet said. "He has done so many great things and knows so much and these kids get such huge value by having him take part in this."
FLYING AROUND: Stingy defense set the tone against Hughesville. The defensive line and linebackers played particularly well and linebackers Robbie Newton, Aaron Hepburn and Mickey Haller seemed to be involved in every play. Hepburn started changing the game's complexion with a big tackle for a loss after Loyalsock lost valuable defensive end Bobby Oeler to an injury. Newton then made three straight tackles for losses and together that combination combined for more than 20 tackles and two sacks.
Newton played one of his best scholastic games and also carried two straight times for 32 yards on a scoring drive that put Loyalsock ahead 20-7.
"He (Newton) came up big running," Datres said. "He's one of the fastest kids on the team and he ran big and made some great plays on defense."
Loyalsock stifled Hughesville's running game after the Spartans ran well the previous two weeks and also recorded five sacks. Caleb Robbins made a big interception and Omar Little added another when Hughesville was trying to rally.
The defense was disappointed it allowed a few big passing plays, but those were more a result of Clint Snyder being a quality receiver and making difficult catches then Loyalsock being out of position. A year ago, Loyalsock went 1-9 and lost its last nine games so it will trade getting beat on a few plays for returning to prominence and being a district playoff contender again.
"We still need to stop the big plays, but we're all playing real well," Newton said. "The mood is way better than it was last year. It's just 1.000 times better. It's fun to practice, it's fun to play games. It's just great."
THE FUN ONES: Muncy routed CMVT, 54-6 Saturday, snapping a two-game losing streak and putting itself back into the District 4 Class A playoff race. The Indians now control their own playoff and NTL Small School championship destiny while embarking on a challenging three-week stretch that includes games against South Williamsport (6-1), at Sayre (5-2) and at Hughesville. If Muncy wins the first two it captures the league title and takes a huge step toward returning to districts.
If the Indians beat Hughesville, they do something no Muncy team has done since 2000. Everything is on the table and both players and coaches understand it does not get much better than this.
"Our seniors in particular with their leadership have set themselves up here for a nice run. Regardless of what happens, I told them this is your senior year and this is the stuff you're going to remember," Muncy coach Jay Drumheller said. "You couldn't ask for a better ending. The scenario is set. We just have to set up and play and it's exciting. That's what you practice for, that's what you play for."
Friday's South-Muncy game is the biggest these two rivals have played since meeting for the 2007 Eastern Conference championship. The winner will be the league's only undefeated team, have a measure of area bragging rights and be in better position to reach districts.
"It's going to be amazing. It's going to be awesome," Muncy fullback/linebacker T.J. Moyle said. "We get to play in front or our home crowd and it's Senior Night. Everybody has to go hard. As a player, if you can't get excited for (this game) you are in the wrong line of business, you're in the wrong sport."
Dr. Masse's area top five
1. Lewisburg (6-1): The Dragons tuned up for a huge game at Central Columbia by battering Warrior Run, 51-0 and winning their fifth straight. Lewisburg clinched its fifth straight winning season and can vault past Central (6-1) for first place in the HAC-II if it can win Friday's showdown that also could go a long way in determining District 4 Class AA's top seed. The defense has been brilliant during this winning streak and held Warrior Run to a season-low 86 yards while intercepting three passes. Lewisburg has allowed just 44 points during its winning streak.
2. Montoursville (4-3): The little things are hurting Montoursville right now and that is why the Warriors suddenly are on the playoff bubble. The Warriors failed to convert on two possessions inside the red zone during Friday's 21-7 loss. Between that and costly turnovers against Central Columbia and letting Lewisburg off th ropes two weeks ago when it led 16-0, Montoursville has hurt its chances against some of the district's best teams. The Warriors also are ailing, dealing with several injuries, but have no time to wallow. The Warriors head to Milton Friday for another difficult game and could earn some much needed momentum if its defeats a team that reached last year's District 4 Class AAA championship.
3. South Williamsport (6-1): If one wants to measure how far South has come this season just look at this stat: South's 38-20 win over Sayre (5-2) gave the Mounties their fifth win over a team that beat it last year. The Mounties clinched a winning season for the first time since 2004 and remained tied for first in the NTL Small School Division. Also realize that Bloomsburg just gave Southern Columbia its toughest game of the year and that South beat the Panthers and again one grasps for how far the Mounties have come under coach Chris Eiswerth. Brandon Stonge played another outstanding game, rushing for 200 yards and the offensive line deserves a bunch of credit. That unit has helped South average 253 rushing yards per game.
4. Loyalsock (4-3): In addition to Girardi, Van Fleet also is receiving a big assist from his former Loyalsock head coach Tim Thompson. Thompson is the team's defensive coordinator, returning to help Van Fleet after head coaching stints at Loyalsock and Williamsport from 2000-2006. He helped turn Loyalsock into a perennial winner at the turn of the century and went 22-10 in his final three years there.
"Tim Thompson was my head coach and a great mentor to me throughout the years. Having him with me certainly helps a lot," Van Fleet said. "He is extremely valuable to me, not just as a coach but as a person."
5. Milton (4-3): If the Black Panthers get a rematch with Selinsgrove in the District 4 Class AAA championship what a game it could be. Milton and Selinsgrove slugged it out Friday with the Seals winning, 14-12. The Panthers dropped two potential game-winning touchdown passes, but showed they are capable of beating the team that owns the top seed right now. Quarterback Brady Chappell played an outstanding game, completing 12 of 17 passes for 158 yards and a touchdown. The three-year starter is closing in on his second straight 1,000 yard season and needs 195 yards to do so.
Player of the Week
Colton Risley, Bucktail: The standout two-way lineman was superb in his first performance this season. Risley, a Sun-Gazette first team all-star last year, had 13 tackles, including five for losses, intercepted a pass and opened up several big runs on the other side of the ball as Bucktail pounded Cowanesque Valley, 48-8. Risley's return, along with that of Matt Horton and Larry Green, has helped Bucktail (4-2) return to full strength and the Bucks have outscored their last two opponents, 96-16 while putting themselves into the hunt for an Eastern Conference playoff spot. The defense forced eight turnovers against CV, intercepting six passes.
Game of the Week
South Williamsport at Muncy: Just like last week, South is playing a game with huge NTL Small School championship and District 4 Class A ramifications. Muncy is as well and the winner of Friday's showdown takes sole possession of first place in the league. This is a terrific small-school rivalry that for a long stretch this century featured nothing but close, back-and-forth games. That trend could be renewed Friday.