GLENOLDEN >> At first glance, there is nothing extraordinary about the piece of paper that is taped to the door that separates the coach’s office from the player’s locker room at the South Avenue Athletic Complex.
It’s a practice schedule with a specific timeline of what the Bucs do on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Similar schedules are posted in an office or a locker room at every football program in the country.
Look closer, though, and you can tell that it’s an older document. The giveaway is the typeface. It is from a typewriter, not a computer. And it’s quite apparent that it is a copy, not an original.
Anyone who played for Joe McNicholas at Ridley would recognize the document immediately.
“That’s Joe’s old practice schedule up there,” Interboro coach Steve Lennox said as the Bucs prepared for their annual Thanksgiving Day showdown with the Green Raiders. “Joe’s the best. He helped me a lot. There are over 500 wins in that practice schedule. That’s pretty impressive.”
Exactly 526 victories can be attributed to that practice schedule, which dates back more than 40 years, and yes, it is impressive.
McNicholas won 226 games using that daily plan, the second most in county history behind Strath Haven’s Kevin Clancy (292).
Lennox has 300 wins to his credit, 84 of which came during an 11-year stint at Dickinson High School in Delaware. The remaining 216 victories have come in his 24 years at Interboro and he shows no signs of letting up.
“It’s still fun,” Lennox said. “I said to someone else that you know you picked the right career or the right job when you still look forward to it after all these years, still doing the work and enjoying it. There are occasional bumps in the road, but it’s still fun.”
Lennox may not have achieved all of his wins coaching in Delaware County, but he is the first county native to reach the triple-century mark.
And make no mistake about it, Lennox is a Delco guy through and through. He grew up in Collingdale, began his coaching career as a volunteer at Ridley under Phil Marion, where his friendship with McNicholas also started, and lives in Rutledge.
It doesn’t get more Delco than that.
And it was those roots that lured him home in 1993 after 11 years as a highly successful coach in Delaware. Another reason was Interboro’s annual Thanksgiving Day rivalry with Ridley, which resumes for the 48th time Thursday at the South Avenue Athletic Complex (10 a.m.).
Lennox grew up with Thanksgiving football. He played in the Sharon Hill-Collingdale rivalry, which ended in 1981 when the schools merged with Darby Township to form Academy Park. In that rivalry, if the game was at Sharon Hill the Bulldogs would walk from Collingdale High School to Sharon Hill. The Owls would do the same when the game was played at Collingdale.
“When I came here, the kids reminded me of the old Collingdale kids,” Lennox said. “It was almost like I was home again. It was the same type of situation. Our Thanksgiving Day game with Ridley is like Collingdale and Sharon Hill. It’s really cool how the communities look forward to it.”
While the game is still a big deal, it’s different, Lennon said, because of the playoffs. Fewer and fewer teams are playing on Thanksgiving. There are only three Thanksgiving Day games in Delco. And the Ridley-Interboro game has been hurt by the playoffs. This is the seventh meeting in the last 11 years. The teams did not play in 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2012 because one or both schools were still participating in the playoffs.
“I still think it’s a big game for the communities,” Lennox said. “It’s a natural reunion. People come back and see friends and classmates, which is great. And I think it’s great for the Thanksgiving holiday. You go to the high school football game and go home and have Turkey dinner. To me, it’s a perfect mix.”
It helps if the rivalry is a competitive one, which the Ridley-Interboro game was not before Lennox arrived. Ridley won 27 of the first 28 meetings. Interboro’s only win was a 9-6 victory in 1973 on the day Ridley dedicated the field to Phil Marion.
The Bucs have an 11-8 advantage under Lennox using a practice schedule Lennox received from McNicholas many years ago. Lennox blacked out the name on the top of the practice schedule and replaced it with the word “Bucs.”
However that is the only change Lennox has made to the document.
“It worked for Joe,” Lennox said. “That’s why I don’t change it. I’m too dumb to reinvent the wheel. If it works, I’m going to run it.”