Coffey named new head football coach at Avon Grove
By Steven Hoffman
Joseph Coffey was recently
named as the new head coach of the Avon Grove football team, becoming the sixth
person to serve in that role since the varsity program was started nearly two
“I’m really excited about the opportunity,” Coffey said during an interview in mid-February, shortly after the Avon Grove School Board formally approved the appointment.
Coffey is a special education teacher at Avon Grove High School. He said that he sees coaching as an extension of teaching, and he’s looking forward to getting to work leading the school’s football program. Once the spring practice takes place, it won’t be that long until the start of training camp and then a new football season. There will be plenty of continuity as the Red Devils enter the 2020 season: Coffey served on the staff of previous Avon Grove head coach Harry O’Neill since 2017. Coffey will also benefit of having several other coaches from O’Neill’s staff remain in key roles. There will also be some new coaches added to the mix.
“I have some great football minds around me,” Coffey said, explaining that he’s really looking forward to learning from the group of coaches that is being assembled.
When Coffey joined the Avon Grove football staff in 2017, he was the HUDL video coordinator. He continued to serve in that role in 2018 and also added the responsibility of coaching the cornerbacks. In 2019, he was the co-defensive coordinator, a cornerbacks coach, and the HUDL video coordinator. That work certainly helped prepare him for the new role as head coach.
Coffey said that O’Neill has been a real asset in helping him get acclimated to the new position. While the 2020 season will be the start of a new era for the Avon Grove football program, it’s more about building on what O’Neill started during his six-year tenure that concluded in the fall of 2019.
“He got the program going in the right direction,” Coffey said of his predecessor. “I just want to build on that.”
Avon Grove plays in the rugged Ches-Mont League which, year in and year out, features some of the most competitive football in the entire region.
“We’ve got to compete on every down on every Friday night,” Coffey explained. “It’s a great league. There are some really strong, top-notch contenders every year. It’s a gauntlet.”
Coffey has a total of twelve years of football coaching experience, serving in a variety of roles with several different schools. He worked as the special teams coordinator for the varsity squad at Bel Air High School in Bel Air, Md. in 2008. The next year he coached running backs and defensive backs at that school.
In 2010, he served as the varsity team’s video coordinator for Appoquinimink High School in Middletown, Del. in 2010.
From 2011 to 2016, he was the receivers coach and defensive backs coach for Interboro High School in Prospect Park, Pa.
Each stop, Coffey said, helped prepare him to be a head coach.
Because he already has familiarity with the Avon Grove football program, he already has some definite plans on how to move it forward.
Coffey said that he’s eager to get started collaborating with his coaches to figure out a game plan for the team. He explained that he does not want to install a specific offensive or defensive system that wouldn’t allow for some flexibility based on the strengths of the players on the team.
“I want to look at who we have and how we can put them in the best position to do well,” Coffey said, explaining that if the team has a big offensive line, they might run the ball more, or they might feature multiple coverages and different concepts on defense to take advantage of certain strengths.
Coffey does want to make certain that youngsters in the community are enjoying football at every level.
He lauded the Avon Grove Wildcats organization for giving youngsters such a good foundation in football.
“I’ve met with representatives of the Wildcats and they have a great thing going,” he said.
He wants to hold clinics for middle school players, and make sure that the football program is aligned as much as possible.
As a teacher, Coffey said, he wants to make sure that the players are benefitting from playing football, and having a positive experience. This includes finding roles for more players to get on the field. It could even mean creating opportunities for youngsters who may want to go into coaching at some point.
“We want to make sure that the kids are excited about football,” he said.
Coffey is certainly excited about the start of the 2020 season. He thanked the administration and community for the opportunity to coach the football team.
“The administration has been very supportive,” he said. “The kids are excited to get on the field. I think the coaches are all in. I think the kids are all in. I’m ready to get to work.”
To contact Staff Writer Steven Hoffman, email editor @ chestercounty.com.
Avon Grove’s varsity football coaches through the years
Michael Duggan (2004)
Jon McFarland (2006)
Marvin Dooley (2007)
Doug Langley (2012)
Harry O’ Neill (2014)
Joseph Coffey (2020)