Lennox, Clancy class of the county
- 2002 Season
Posted Tuesday, September 27, 2011 by John Lohn
By John Lohn; November 23,2002
NETHER PROVIDENCE -- Ladies and gentlemen of the Delaware County football jury, the evidence you are about to read is indisputable. There is no room for debate. No need for deliberation.
Upon conclusion of this story, an unequivocal verdict will emerge: In the gridiron history of this county, Steve Lennox and Kevin Clancy rate among the Delco elite.
In these paragraphs, you will find proof of that statement, presented on a day that will -- as much as their success -- link Lennox and Clancy, the head coaches at Interboro and Strath Haven, respectively.
Early this afternoon, at the South Avenue Athletic Complex, Interboro will venture into the Class AAAA state quarterfinals for the first time in school history.
In a matchup with North Penn, the Bucs (10-2) will seek an extended run to what has been a magical season, a campaign that is one victory short of producing an Eastern Final appearance.
Early this afternoon, 100-plus miles to the North, Strath Haven will open its annual assault on the Class AAA state playoffs, taking the field at Memorial Stadium in Wilkes-Barre.
In a quarterfinal meeting with Pittston, the Panthers will seek their fifth consecutive visit to the Eastern Final, exactly where Haven (12-0) expects to be in late November.
Without question, Lennox has molded Interboro into one of the finest programs in Delaware County. Without question, Clancy has sculpted Strath Haven into one of the state’s premier programs.
Simply, both men have established themselves as sideline masterminds, matched by few in their brilliant management of the football field.
Here’s a look at these men and, in part, how they’ve arrived at their current status.
A standout quarterback at Collingdale High School and Millersville University, Lennox has known nothing but great accomplishment during his tenure at Interboro, compiling a 96-18 record during a 10-year run that began in 1993.
But with a career record of 182-50-2, Lennox’s success began long before he stepped onto a football field at Interboro. From 1982-1992, Lennox ran the show at Dickinson High School (Del.), collecting a small-school state championship in his final season.
Even earlier, Lennox was perfecting his craft under the tutelage of Joe McNicholas and Phil Marion, Ridley legends and the two-winningest coaches in county history.
A volunteer assistant under Marion in 1971, Lennox also consistently learned from McNicholas, frequently swinging by Ridley in order to log valuable advice.
"I was fortunate to have those two guys," Lennox said earlier this week. "When I was at Dickinson, McNick gave me a lot of help. I learned so much from meeting with him. I always had one more question to ask. I’d be trying to get one more thing in and he’d be trying to close the door on me.
"One of the biggest things I learned from McNick was that you always have to try to improve. When McNick was winning, he was still adding things. He was always a step ahead. He was an amazing mentor."
A model of consistency at Interboro, Lennox has directed his squad into the playoffs on three occasions, including an appearance in the District One Class AAA final -- a 35-14 loss to Strath Haven -- in his first year.
As for the Class AAAA level, Lennox, in addition to this season, guided his squad into the 2000 postseason, a berth that ended with a 31-14 loss to Wyoming Valley West. Still, it was a defeat that educated Interboro about the rigors of playoff competition.
With five seasons of 10-plus wins, Lennox boasts eight Del Val League championships, including five consecutive. So, what’s the secret?
"I can’t explain what it is," said center Mike Hager of Lennox. "He’s just a great coach. You can’t pinpoint one thing with him because he does such a great job in every aspect of the game.
"There’s just something about him. You look at him and the way he does things and you see a leader. He’s unbelievable. It’s hard to find someone like him."
With an overall winning percentage of .782 and a success rate of .842 at Interboro, Lennox’s reign features more than league-championship production and postseason participation. You see, there’s that little thing at Interboro that holds great significance. It’s known as the Thanksgiving Day rivalry with Ridley.
When Lennox took control of the Bucs, Interboro was mired in a 19-game losing streak on Turkey Day. Since, Interboro has emerged victorious in six of nine contests.
"One of the main reasons I took this job was the Thanksgiving game," Lennox said. "I’ve been blessed with great coaches and tough kids. I’ve been lucky. I expect to win. That’s the attitude we try to instill. The kids have adopted that attitude."
Like Interboro, a winning attitude is all that is recognized at Strath Haven, where Clancy has coached since 1991, the year he arrived from his alma mater, Archbishop Carroll.
Compiling a 67-39-2 record at Carroll, including four appearances in the Catholic League championship game, Clancy has led the Panthers to a 127-25 mark during his time on Providence Road.
But that’s just the start of a gaudy resume, one filled with accolade after accolade and a 92-5 mark during the past seven seasons.
The third winningest coach in county history with 194 victories, Clancy’s leadership has generated nine Central League championships, eight District One Class AAA crowns and a pair of state titles.
As impressive, Clancy has shaped a number of athletes into Division I products, including LaMar Campbell and Isaac Jones -- a pair of future professionals -- and Mark Jones and Josh Hannum. From those athletes, a tradition was formed, one that has bred first-rate football on a yearly basis.
"The tradition is a big part of the program," Clancy said. "It runs down through the middle school. The enthusiasm in the kids has developed a lifeline."
For all the achievement Strath Haven has realized during the regular season, Clancy is the reason the Panthers have earned their reputation as a state power.
Initially powering Haven into the state tournament in 1996, Clancy has overseen the development of the program from hopeful contender to expected champion -- at least at some level.
Since the 1996 squad was dropped by Berwick, 29-2, the Panthers have risen in stature, growing in the weight room and through experience to attain their current status.
"The big thing the playoffs have done is expose us to top-flight competition," Clancy said. "They forced us, as players and coaches, to fine-tune our program. In 1996, we learned what it takes to play at that level. Every year since, we’ve gotten better."
The Associated Press Big School Coach of the Year in 2000, Clancy is revered across the state as a football whiz. Still, the longtime coach is the first to deflect credit, whether it be to his players or coaching staff, one of the finest around.
"The staff has stayed intact and we’ve developed a great relationship," Clancy said. "We’re never in disagreement over points two or three. We’re usually in agreement down to at least points nine and 10. For the most part, we see things the same way. We have a great understanding of one another."
Consequently, the Strath Haven program continues to power forward, never looking back, but always focused on the task at hand and the opportunity to add another honor to an already rich program.
Behind that approach, obviously, sits Clancy.
"He’s the most respected guy in the school," said linebacker Dan Connor of his coach. "He has such a leadership presence about him. No matter who you are, he gets the most out of you.
"He’s a great teacher. He’s a guy you want to impress and play for. You can approach him with opinions on things and he’ll listen. We really appreciate that we can give our input. You just know he’s going to be a legend."
It’s a label Clancy and Lennox -- one day -- will share.