New Shade football coach Gene Boley is a well-traveled man, so it’s no real surprise that he’s willing to do it again to help rebuild the Panthers’ downtrodden program.
Boley will make his first visit as coach to get things going next week as he ventures north from Adairsville, Ga.
“I’m from Ohio, and Pennsylvania is one of the Top 5 states that plays the best high school football in the country,” Boley said in an exclusive interview with QZ93 Sports Central. “I’ve always wanted to coach in Pennsylvania, where they have high academic standards and great players. When the job opened up, I wanted the opportunity to get into Shade. Once I went there and met the administration, Athletic Director Paul Leonard, the superintendent and principal, I really wanted the job. They were really for the sports and for the kids. The school board is tremendous. They are for academics and what’s best for the kids.”
Boley brings an impressive resume to the position, where he will have to build numbers for a team that spent last season practicing against garbage cans rather than teammates. Shade co-ops with Shanksville for football and Boley plans to make a big push in both schools to find the quality athletes the program needs to turn things around.
“You can have a good football team that plays hard and you can build a team from the ground up,” said Boley, a 50-year-old former Marine. “It won’t happen overnight. It will take a few seasons, but it can be successful. I wouldn’t have taken the job if I didn’t think I could make it a good football team.”
Boley and his wife, Terrie, are the parents of three grown daughters, each of whom found a home in the military. Two of his daughters followed in dad’s footsteps by joining the Marines and the other went into the Army.
Meanwhile, Boley has coached in the college ranks as well as at various high schools.
His stops included four years at the Naval Academy, where he was the head coach of the sprint football team for two conference championships. He then spent two years as an assistant with the Midshipmen’s traditional football team.
He’s made stops at Western New Mexico and Indiana State. Boley moved to the high school ranks when he took over as head coach at Carbondale (Ill.) high school for three years. From there it was on to Pope John Paul II in Florida. After having success in the Sunshine State, Boley took at job a perennial power Robinsville (N.C.) high school, a small school of only 305 kids on the border between Tennessee and North Carolina.
Boley spent the past season coaching at Adiarsville (Ga.) High School, where he directed the offensive line. Adairsville is located about 75 miles northwest of Atlanta.
“I believe in tough, disciplined football teams that will play hard all game and will be fundamentally sound,” said Boley, who anticipates playing a Wing-T style offense with plenty of motion and an aggressive defense. “I want to get kids to play hard for all 48 minutes and represent the school well. That’s what fans can expect, a team that will play hard.”
Boley hopes to get at least 30-35 players out for the squad this year and he’s ready to build the foundation for the future.
“We have 75 kids signed up for youth football,” he said. “I’m really going to work with the youth coaches. I’m going to do the best I can and however it folds out, it folds out.”
In addition to finding the right players, Boley’s also looking for the right coaches. Part of his visit May 28-29 will be to interview coaching candidates and he’s still looking to set up interviews with anyone interested in a position.
Boley praised the area’s personality for helping to make the decision to return north much easier.
“People in Pennsylvania are downright the best,” said Boley, who hopes to get to a Penn State and Pitt football game. “They are like Ohio people. I’ve coached in Texas and Florida and coached where people aren’t nice. We wanted to be around a good school district and good people, so it was a great fit.”
Boley becomes the second WestPAC coach hired during the offseason. Conemaugh Valley tabbed Jim Fisher in mid-March. Shade visits Conemaugh Valley in the Sept. 5 season opener for each team.