LANCASTER COUNTY, PA – Army head football coach Bobby Ross spoke at the Eighth Annual Manheim Touchdown Club Awards Banquet Tuesday night about commitment, goal-setting, preparation, and personal integrity, character traits which seem to be embodied by Manheim Central senior Graham Zug.
Zug, the Barons’ star wide receiver/defensive back, was named the MTC’s 2005 Lancaster-Lebanon League High School Player of the Year at a banquet held at the Lancaster Host Resort.
“This kind of tops it off,” Zug said of his career at Central, which included being named Associated Press First Team All-State wide receiver following the 2005 season.
“This is the last big event for me in Manheim football history.”
Zug was one of three finalists for the MTC award, along with Manheim Township junior quarterback Pat Bostick and Lebanon senior offensive guard/defensive end Jared Odrick.
Zug and Odrick will both continue their academic and athletic careers at Penn State in the fall. Bostick committed verbally Friday to attend the University of Pittsburgh in 2007.
In the last three seasons, Zug played a key role in the Barons’ three L-L League Section Two titles, three District Three Class AAA championships, three trips to the Eastern Finals, two Eastern titles and one state championship.
He owns nine career and season Baron football records, and leaves the program with 137 catches, 2,282 yards, 33 touchdowns receiving, 39 TDs total and 15 interceptions, including five for scores.
“Graham was a big part of our success the past few years,” Central coach Mike Williams said. “I told our quarterback Brandon Miller, ‘When you’re in trouble, just throw to Graham.’ ”
Zug said he found it hard to believe “you get a reward for something you enjoy doing.”
But the dedication Zug showed to be the best he could at what he was doing was one of Ross’s themes in the banquet’s keynote speech.
In a press conference prior to his speech, the Army boss touched on multiple topics, including following in the footsteps of legendary West Point coach Earl “Red” Blaik (Ross is currently living in Blaik’s former home); reviving the Black Knights’ winning tradition; the intensity of the Army-Navy game; coaching “burnout”; the differences between coaching in college and in the NFL; and the current trend towards athletes specializing in one sport while in high school.
“I think there is that trend,” he said, “and I don’t know if it’s good. If a youngster wants to play three sports, he should experience that.”
Ross said he hesitated before accepting the Army job three years ago, but changed his mind when his wife Alice said it was his “patriotic duty” to coach at West Point.
“I really felt like maybe I could help in some way to get them back to being competitive,” he said, “because I don’t think the Service Academies should be losing all the time.”
The United States Military Academy is the latest coaching stop for Ross, who also served as head coach at the University of Maryland, Georgia Tech, the San Diego Chargers and Detroit Lions. He led Georgia Tech to a share of the 1990 national title with Colorado and the Chargers to Super Bowl XXIX following the 1994 season.
He guided Army to a 4-7 record last season, and owns a collegiate coaching record of 96-85-2 and an NFL coaching mark of 77-68.
Along with Zug, award winners included University of Michigan QB Chad Henne, the MTC’s Division I and IAA Player of the Year for the second straight year; Lebanon Valley College wide receiver Adam Brossman as Division II and III Player of the Year; and Grand Valley State University defensive lineman Michael McFadden as the Gene Upshaw Division II Lineman of the Year.
Manheim Central Scholarship Award winners were Nicholas Brudowsky (track, cross country); Benjamin Eyer (track, cross country); Nate Mast (football, basketball, baseball); Jeff Ochoa (football, wrestling); Emily Swarr (tennis, soccer); and Zug (football, basketball).
by Ed Gruver
Intelligencer Journal Sports Writer