By Matt Tulli
Penn Manor Athletic Director Jeff Roth announced John Brubaker as Penn Manor’s 10th head football coach on March 17, about eight weeks after former coach Todd Mealy announced his resignation to focus on family and his upcoming doctorate degree.
While coach Mealy’s resignation was disappointing for the Penn Manor football community, new coach John Brubaker has a very strong résumé. A 1983 graduate of Manheim Central and a three-year starting running back for the Barons, Brubaker holds school records for career rushing yards (2,919), and rushes in a game (37) and season (258). He was also selected to play in the 1982 Big 33 All-Star Football game.
Brubaker comes from a successful culture as a coach, too, as the Barons made it to the state title game three different times when he was a defensive coordinator, winning one of them. The team won 16 District Three Class AAA titles during his tenure as an assistant. Brubaker brings experience, both as a coach and player.
Sophomore Grant Gale says about Brubaker, “On the field, he’s done an excellent job with their defense, and by scrimmaging them the past two years, I can tell he’s a very intense coach. Off the field, he’s a completely different person: fun to be around and easy to talk to.”
There are many similarities between Coach Mealy and Coach Brubaker. First, they both had very successful careers on the field; Mealy won a state championship in 1995 as a linebacker for Bishop McDevitt. Brubaker saw personal success, with the aforementioned records that he holds at Central and Big 33 selection.
About coach Brubaker, Dan Mahoney says, “He has stepped right into our workouts and is beginning to take charge.”
Football at Penn Manor has an interesting history. Not only was Penn Manor one of the last schools in the county to establish varsity football (1971), the Comets also had a 33-game losing streak that was featured on ESPN in the ‘90s and have won just two section championships in the 43 years of varsity football (‘74 and ‘84).
But just because the East Gym won’t show the winning tradition in the past several years doesn’t mean Penn Manor hasn’t had one. Wilson High School’s dominance over Mealy’s tenure hindered the Comets’ chances at a Section 1 title. Penn Manor lost three games within seven points to perennial Section 1 powerhouse Wilson.
When Todd Mealy took over the program in 2007, Penn Manor football was in a rough spot. Before he came, the Comets were frequently at the bottom of the LL-League rankings. While they did see a District playoff appearance in 2006, the 2007 squad managed only one win and nine losses.
Penn Manor would go on to compile a 55-24 record over Mealy’s next seven years. They also ranked fourth in District 3 AAAA in wins over those years. To put it into perspective, Penn Manor had a record of 142-229-2 over 38 years before Mealy became head coach, good for a mediocre 38 percent winning percentage. After Mealy’s first season, the Comets compiled a 70 percent winning percentage. Quite a few accomplishments, but his impact wasn’t just off the field, as the football team maintained a 3.4 grade-point average over his tenure.