By KARL PEARSON
For a school that only a day before had found itself in the market for a new head football coach, Pymatuning Valley certainly seems to have landed on its feet.
Pending approval by the Pymatuning Valley Local School Board of Education at its regular meeting Tuesday night, 1990 PV alumnus Jason Root will be taking over at the helm of the Lakers. He will replace Kris Hudnall, another PV graduate who was approved for the job May 8, then resigned Tuesday.
In the estimate of PV Superintendent Jake Rose, Root's hiring at that meeting should be merely a formality since it has already been run by the members of the school board.
"We're very happy to have a person like Jason coming in to be our coach," he said. "It's nice to have an alumnus coming back in to run our program."
Root had actually been a candidate for the job initially, but had backed out of the process when it became uncertain if a job opening that would be set aside for him in PV schools would remain open despite any potential cutbacks. Under the current circumstances, Root will be able to coach the Lakers and retain his job as a teacher at Jefferson High School, from which he resigned his position as head football coach after the 2004 season after claiming a share of two Northeastern Conference titles.
From Root's standpoint, it is almost as if it was intended for him to be at the controls of the PV program all along.
"I wanted to do this in the first place, but I was hesitant," he said. "When it came back around the second time, I felt that it must have been meant to be.
"I think I have the best of both worlds. I still get to teach at Jefferson and be with these students and still explore some new territory with the PV football team. I'm really
excited about this new challenge."
One of the things that makes Rose happy about hiring Root is that he fits the PV board's original template of bringing on a fine teacher first and foremost.
"When we began interviewing, we were looking at them as a teacher first," he said. "That's the thing about Jason. He comes highly recommended as a teacher first. It will be our goal to eventually get him on our teaching staff, too."
Root admits the Lakers will be playing a bit of catchup, but he also likes the circumstances he finds at PV.
"Obviously, we're going to be way behind with our strength and conditioning," he said. "Mr. Boggs (athletic director) and Mr. Huber (assistant principal) kept the strength and conditioning going for us, but we need to pick it up.
"We have nice talent and a favorable schedule. Scott Collins breathed life back into the program and got things going again. I think he helped them gain their confidence back. I feel he left us with a good jumping-off place."
Root is fortunate that his varsity football staff is also in place.
"We're going to meet with the kids on Tuesday," he said. "I have a full varsity coaching staff with Steve Urchek and Andy Gray and we're adding Kevin Brown and Dan Jackson, who coached junior high football last year at PV and teaches at the vo-ed school."
He is also pleased with the surroundings in which the Lakers find themselves.
"I'm excited with the entire PV facility," Root said. "That goes for the weight room, the locker room, the field and the stands."
The notion of being the head football coach at his alma mater wasn't really in his dreams or expectations, so Root looks at it as another sign it was destined to be.
"I never saw myself being there because I always felt I would always be at Jefferson," he said. "I guess this is just something else that shows it was meant to be."
It was pretty obvious Rose was pleased with PV's good fortune in landing their man.
"Considering where we were at Tuesday (after Hudnall's resignation), I'm very pleased where we're at," he said. "We're just very happy to have Jason."