LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. – Call it a pair of Golden opportunities.
That’s what Temple football coach Al Golden and the Manheim Touchdown Club’s 2006 Lancaster-Lebanon League Player of the Year, Manheim Township QB/punter Pat Bostick, see as they prepare for new beginnings next season.
For Golden and the Owls, the 2007 season will mark Temple’s first in the Mid-American Conference, and they’ll enter their new surroundings armed with a recruiting class ranked as the MAC’s best by Scout.com. It’s a class that includes Lancaster Catholic All-Star tight end Matt Balasavage.
“I said when I got to Temple that we were going to recruit the local area very hard,” Golden said prior to serving as the guest speaker at the Ninth Annual Manheim Touchdown Club Awards banquet Thursday night at the Host Resort.
“We came away with a young man at Lancaster Catholic that we’re very proud of, Matt Balasavage. … This is a very industrious kid, this is a leader, this is a kid from a great family. This is the kind of kid that we wanted to get back to — a self-starter, a kid who excels in the classroom.
“We think he’s a very good player and obviously a kid that we’re counting on coming in and playing.”
Bostick, bound for the University of Pittsburgh with a full athletic scholarship, was named Player of the Year from a final three that included a pair of L-L All-Stars in Manheim Central two-way lineman Marcus Zimmerman and Lancaster Catholic QB/safety Nick Downey.
“This is one of those awards you dream of getting but never think you can,” said Bostick, whose 7,259 yards passing ranks fifth all-time among Pennsylvania high school QBs.
“You watch those two tapes, and those guys (Zimmerman and Downey) can play ball as well as anyone in the league. It really does mean a lot to be nominated with them. To be with the likes of those players is definitely an honor.”
Temple went 1-11 last season in Golden’s inaugural campaign. But the man who has received ringing endorsements from two of his former coaches — Joe Paterno and Bill Parcells — and whose hiring on Dec. 6, 2005 enticed Temple alums like legendary high school coach George Curry to attend Owls’ spring practice for the first time in years, is upbeat for good reason.
Of the 29 players he’s signed since last season, 15 were rated highly by two of the nation’s more respected recruiting services, Prep Star and Superprep.
“We certainly have the best recruiting base in the MAC,” Golden said. “We have within three hours of our doorstep four major metropolitan areas. Forty-five percent of our nation’s population lives within five hours of our doorstep.”
Golden’s success in signing talented players shouldn’t be surprising. He did, after all, serve as Paterno’s recruiting coordinator and linebackers coach in 2000 after having been a tight end and team captain on the Nittany Lions in 1991-92. As defensive coordinator at the University of Virginia in 2003, Golden signed USA Today National Defensive Player of the Year Ahmad Brooks. He also successfully recruited Virginia High School Player of the Year Olu Hall for the Cavaliers.
Small wonder that Paterno cited his former player, captain and coach as a “very bright, aggressive guy and a tireless worker,” and that Parcells called him an “excellent recruiter” and said Temple was “fortunate to have a person — and a coach — of his caliber leading its program.”
Signing talented players is one thing. Changing the mindset of a program that hasn’t had a winning season since 1990 is an even bigger challenge.
“You’ve got to start from Ground Zero and change everything,” Golden said. “The first 12, 13 months (after being hired), all we did was talk about individual behavior. It wasn’t until March 2007 that we could really talk about team-building.
“It was a long process just to get to where we are now, and we feel like everything we’re doing now is moving forward.”
Notes: MTC award winners Thursday night included scholarship winners Manheim Central’s Daneen Zug (field hockey, soccer); Travis Nissley (football, wrestling); Kelsey Landis (field hockey, track); and Elizabeth Hess (field hockey, softball) … Cedar Crest’s Bradley Wolfson (swimming, tennis, golf) and Donegal’s Samantha Jo Houseal (softball, basketball, field hockey) were recognized as A. Landis Brackbill Scholarship Award winners … Michigan’s Chad Henne (Wilson) and Lebanon Valley College’s Adam Brossman (Lebanon) repeated as the MTC’s NCAA Division I/I-AA and II/III Players of the Year, respectively. The honor was Henne’s third straight … Grand Valley State’s Michael McFadden was selected as the Gene Upshaw Division II Lineman of the Year for the second straight year.