David Howle has one of the most unusual football coaching situations in the country this year, because it is very likely he will not attend a majority of his team’s games.
Howle had coached at the school for 21 years before resigning after his son Ty graduated and signed with Penn State in 2008. Howle stepped aside because he wanted to be free to attend his son’s games.
Four years later, Ty is projected to be the Nittany Lions’ starting center and David Howle still plans to be at the Penn State games. That’s why he initially turned down overtures to return as head coach to the program that he had built.
“I am going to 12 Penn State games,” Howle said. “My son has worked much of his life for this opportunity. He is going to have only one senior season. I’m going to be at every game.”
Howle plans to prepare his offensive and defensive coordinators to make adjustments during the game.
“There is only so much you can do once the game starts,” Howle said. “Probably 90 percent or more of coaching comes in preparation.”
Howle said the staff would handle the games when he is away. There will be no sideline electronic conversations with Howle during games. “That definitely wouldn’t work,” he said.
Even with the caveat of Howle missing some games, the Wildcats are excited to get back the coach who directed the program to a 183-72 record. Chris Miller, Howle’s successor, posted 9-4, 11-3, 9-4 and 10-3 seasons, but with his departure the community wanted someone with ties to the program.
Howle still was teaching at the school and coaching the track team. He knew the players. He agreed to coach with the stipulation that he would be able to go to all the Penn State games, even if it meant that he would miss Bunn games. Penn State home games are about an eight-hour drive. Most road games are farther.
“I’m committed to the Bunn team, but I’m committed to my son and family,” he said. “My job is going to be to coach the coaches and prepare the team for the game. Coaches do the biggest part of their job during the week, not on Friday night.”
Howle knows he has a lot of coaching to do. The Wildcats are young and Howle plans to change offenses, moving from a spread to a Delaware Wing-T, although the club averaged 32 points per game in 2012.
“We have an abundance of backs,” Howle said. “The Wing-T fits us better even though the kids haven’t run it before.”
The Wildcats won the state 2A title in the 4x100 relay last spring and three of the four members are running backs. Ashton Avery, Naquan Davis and David McPhail are juniors with outstanding speed.
The line features 270-pound Ronnie Morrisette and 250-pound Josh Moore.
Senior Jonathan Eatman and Davonte Caldwell are working at quarterback.
Seven starters, led by ends Nathan Spurling and Dominique Seda, return to a defensive unit that allowed 8.9 points per game. Linebacker Thomas Zakerski is expected to be a three-year starter.
“We can have a nice season,” Howle said. “We’ve got some good backs with speed, some size. But I’ve been away for four years. There are going to be some adjustments.”
Senior Freeman Jones is a national caliber kicker and has committed to the University of North Carolina. Howle said Jones is one of the team’s best athletes.
“You don’t always think of your kicker as being a great athlete,” Howle said, “but Freeman is. Man oh man he can kick it. You know three threes is better than one six.”