Winston Redman resigned as head coach at Conemaugh Valley after two seasons with the Blue Jays football team, citing his desire to follow his son’s final year of high school sports and the challenge of filling a roster at the small school Class A level.
“It’s not all based on X’s and O’s. It’s just numbers,” Redman said in a telephone interview from his Keyser, W.Va., home on Tuesday. “I get tired going into the games and look across the field and see 45 players. At the end of the season, we had 22. That’s the biggest reason.
“The administration, board of education, teachers, everyone at Conemaugh Valley was great. It’s a great place to work. I’d tell any coach that. The superintendent has been great. The board has been great. They give you what you need. It was just about numbers. It was my decision. I wanted to give them early enough notice so they could react to it and get a coach in there.”
Redman led Conemaugh Valley to a 5-14 record in his two seasons. While the won-loss mark might not seem like much success, in reality, Redman helped the Jays program in several areas.
The 3-7 mark this past season was the best since Valley went 4-5 in 2008. The Blue Jays won back-to-back games for the first time since a three-game streak four years ago.
The two teams prior to Redman’s arrival won a combined two games.
“I think he did a fantastic job. He came in here knowing nobody up here,” said Conemaugh Valley Athletic Director Paula McCleester, who confirmed that Redman resigned and the school district is advertising the head coaching position. “Conemaugh Valley is now doing a “Bigger, Faster, Stronger” conditioning program. This is the second year for it. We hired strength coaches. You can definitely see a huge improvement not just in the football program but in all of our student athletes.
“He really fundraised for the football program. He helped organize the football boosters. I think it was a big eye opener for him. It was hard for him to be away from his hometown.”
Redman came to Valley in 2011 with a football resume that included stops in West Virginia, Maryland, Texas and Europe due to his military background. He brought with him energy and enthusiasm but also faced the challenges of filling a roster deep enough to compete in the WestPAC and also juggling his commute from East Taylor to West Virginia in order to be with his family.
“I just wanted to spend this last year with my older son Max,” Redman said. “He’s a preseason ranked No. 1 wrestler. Keyser just lost the state championship 2A football game.”
McCleester said Redman dealt with the low numbers and the difficulty of fielding a junior varsity team and schedule.
“Some schools (in the WestPAC) don’t have a jayvee program. That upset him a little bit when we played jayvee, but that’s how it is up here,” McCleester said. “Just trying to fulfill that commitment to the WestPAC was difficult. That was hard for him to try to get that group of kids out there to play jayvee. If he didn’t have to worry about jayvee and he could focus only on varsity, that might have made it different.
“It was very difficult for him going back home,” she added. “He has a son who is a senior this year. Going back and forth was really a struggle for him.”
The district has received multiple applications and McCleester said early indications are that the rest of the current staff has interest in returning.
McCleester said Redman was assisted by former Valley head coach Tom Marshall, Bob Burk, Matt Kent, Mike Fox and John Poloyac.
“I think they’ll find one or two or three coaches in the school,” Redman said. “Everything is in place, a weight room, a booster club. It’s just about numbers.
“I don’t know how Portage does it, and we’re the same size school. Coach (Gary Gouse) has been there 20-some years and he built the program. The kids want to play. Sometimes, we don’t have enough players to replicate the other team’s defense. We’d use garbage cans. Garbage cans are good for August when you put in your blocking schemes. But when you don’t have the people you can’t replicate in practice.
“It had nothing to do with the people at Conemaugh Valley. The WestPAC, the coaches, they all were great people. Everybody has been great up there at Conemaugh Valley. The board supported me 150 percent.”
McCleester believes Redman established an important foundation.
“He did institute a spring workout program, and the ‘Bigger, Faster, Stronger’ program which benefited all the sports,” she said. “Because of him Conemaugh Valley is going to benefit in the future. He definitely did some positive things for Conemaugh Valley.”