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Penn Manor & Coach Brubaker's Uphill Battle

Written By: C.J. Frederick

Penn Manor heads into year seven of the John Brubaker era (11-47 overall record) and there is a sense of optimism that this can be the year they turn it around. This has been a challenging task for Coach and their staff as like everyone else in League (and the world for that matter) they are still dealing with the difficulties of Covid. What you may not know is that Penn Manor High School is going through major reconstruction that has put all of their athletics in a tough situation. Brubaker and his team have at times no access to a weight-room, classes to hold team meetings and an actual locker room.

Coach has a respected reputation coming from Manheim Central as their Defensive Coordinator over 20 years. During their heyday, which included several section titles and 1 state championship, Central consistently had one of the top defenses in all of Pennsylvania. Since taking over for Todd Mealy back in 2015 it has been an uphill battle for Penn Manor, with several key starters returning and newcomers stepping in, this could be the year that the Comets break through in Section 1. Just this past weekend after their scrimmage with Governor Mifflin, I was able to get a quick interview with Coach and have the question and answer session posted below:

You are a heading into your Seventh Season as head coach, what has changed the most over your tenure?

Coach Brubaker: Overall participation has increased at middle school and high school levels

A commitment level has increased in the off-season, Parent involvement and booster involvement is solid. We have become a much more competitive team but still need more W's on Friday night. We have players moving on to college and many are continuing with football.

A stronger sense of pride exists. We are winning in many areas but need more on Friday nights. This falls on me and my staff.

What was the biggest difference between here and Manheim Central?

Brubaker: A stronger culture is my initial response BUT I do believe PM has a growing culture that is exciting to be a part of. MCs culture begins at a young age but PMs is improving also. You can't overlook all the championships at MC which plays a lot into the culture and community pride.. MC had their moment in the late 80's that began the steamroller effect. We need to have that moment at PM, it will come and when it does it will be awesome for the program.

This past year we had 300 kids involved in spring flag football ranging from grades 3 to 8. I have made a concerted effort to involve our youth and hope this continues to payoff with interest in the sport.

What has been the biggest obstacle coaching during the pandemic?

Brubaker: The biggest was the off season and lack of physical contact with the players. Once we began to practice I thought the kids did a great job of taking care of what they could control which was practice and getting ready for the next opponent. We were fortunate to play 9 games.

How have the kids/coaching staff adapted to the construction?

Coach: Construction was not fun last school year and we had no weight room to use. We were fortunate to have a strong parent advocate that allowed our players to use his home basement weight room. Thank you Joe Ditmer. We now have a temporary weight room below a new field house locker room. Things are coming together and construction will be less an issue for us this year. It will be exciting to see the final phase of construction come together over the next year which will include athletics, weight room and gym space.

As you can imagine it is not an ideal situation to be coaching or playing at Penn Manor with the entire school going through brand new construction. Speaking with Coach Brubaker and his staff, you really appreciate the positive outlook they have in spite of all these difficulties. With Section 1 being wide open this year, maybe year 7 will be the time that Penn Manor makes their notice.

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