Daniel Boone’s search didn’t extend all that far beyond the Berks County boundaries in their pursuit of a new head football coach this winter.
On Monday night, longtime Reading High School football coach Rob Flowers was officially voted in and named the program’s next head coach at Boone’s school board meeting.
“I’m excited for a fresh start, a new beginning, a new everything,” said Flowers, a teacher at River Rock Academy, an alternative service for students in grades 6-12. “I’m looking forward to the challenge and the change. It’s unfamiliar territory for Daniel Boone and myself. We’re both going to grow together and hopefully build this program back up.
“I want to come here and eventually win a championship. That’s the goal.”
Flowers’ hiring comes just over two weeks after he resigned from his post with the Red Knights. The 35-year-old Flowers has spent the past seven years as head coach, and the previous 10 on staff with Reading.
During his run as head coach, the Red Knights amassed a 26-47 overall record. They snapped a 10-year streak of losing seasons in 2014 when they finished 6-4 overall and made a run into the District 3-4A playoffs.
“We did some great things at Reading, but I felt like it was my time,” he said. “We felt as though we were constantly rebuilding — I didn’t know what to do next. We left on good terms, nothing hateful, nothing angry. Ten years for myself, seven years for my staff — it’s a long time.”
Flowers takes over a Daniel Boone program that hasn’t exactly had an easy go since their run to the District 3-3A semifinals in 2014.
The Blazers opened up the 2015 season with three straight wins before an injury-plagued campaign saw them hobble to a 3-7 overall finish. Over the next two seasons, they racked up just five wins in all, the most recent season with Ryan Contento filling in on the sideline after head coach Bill Parks was forced to resign just after camp.
In Birdsboro, Flowers sees a community starving for football success.
“We’re dealing with a community that really wants to see football become great again,” said Flowers. “We’re gonna take our same personalities, our same energy and we’re gonna rally around this community. This community remembers when they were really good several years back. We want to bring that back.”
On that note, there is plenty of positive in the ranks, most notably in the receiving corps.
Dylan Walker emerged as a sophomore this fall and racked up a Berks-best 532 receiving yards and eight touchdowns on 23 receptions on the year. Juniors Chase Lacey and Matt Okuniewski also bolster the receiving ranks.
Perhaps the biggest void to fill will be under center as three-year starting quarterback Josh Ehst will graduate this spring.
A passing attack would certainly be an adjustment for a Flowers-coached team, as the Knights hadn’t passed for more than 500 yards in a season since 2013.
Flowers’ approach will feature a blend of Reading and Daniel Boone football. He plans to bring with him a few members of his staff from Reading and mix them in among some members from Daniel Boone, all while keeping open the possibility of new faces on the sideline.
That will certainly be the same case on the field.
“Oh, we’re gonna run the ball,” said Flowers convincingly. “Over the years, we’ve looked at what we (Reading) and they (Daniel Boone) have done well. So we’re gonna have a nice little blend of the two.
“Our base is option football — that’s not a secret. But then the other 50 percent of what we do will be whatever it is that our kids do well. Whatever it may be, we’re gonna play to our strengths.”
During his tenure with Reading, Flowers finished 4-3 against Daniel Boone, including a run of three straight wins capped by this year’s 21-0 shutout.
There were some memorable matchups, including a 61-7 win during the 2015 season before the Knights went on to win in the Eastern Conference semifinal, their first postseason win in over a decade.
There were, of course, some forgettable ones, as well. Reading dropped a 55-3 contest in 2011, a season in which they were shut out four times and posted just one win in Flowers’ first year as head coach.
Although there will most certainly be emotions felt by both sides when the two teams meet next season, Flowers plans to bring the same approach in facing his old team as he would against anyone else.
“They’re on my schedule, I have to find a way to beat them just like I would anybody else,” said Flowers. “For those that know me, they know that I care about my program first. So I have to make sure that our guys are ready to play each and every week. We want to go out and win one game a week, no matter who that opponent is.”
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