Bob Brice has taught social studies at Chichester High School for four years. He knows the students and understands that it’s been a long time since the varsity football team has fielded a winner.
He’s looking forward to tackling the task.
Pending school board approval Feb. 19, Brice will become the new head coach of the Eagles. The position was previously held by Ryan Smith, who coached the team from 2010-2018.
A graduate of West Chester East High School, Brice, 29, was a quarterback at Widener University. He transferred from Widener and finished his undergraduate degree at West Chester University.
After college, Brice returned to East where he was an assistant coach for three years. He spent the last four seasons on coach Mike St. Clair’s staff at Rustin and was the offensive coordinator since 2017. He helped the Golden Knights reach the District 1 Class 5A final in 2018.
“Being a head coach means a lot to me,” Brice told the Daily Times on Monday. “I try to live my life by the philosophy that Jackie Robinson once said, ‘Life is unimportant except for the impact it has on other lives.’ I think this puts me in a position to have a positive impact on not only the student-athletes here, but the community as well. And that’s my overall philosophy of coaching.
“I want to try to produce the most successful young men and women I can and try to use football as a platform to do that. I’d like to be a players’ coach and try to do everything in my power to make sure they’re successful after high school. I’ve already built a lot of relationships at Chichester with the students, and I look forward to trying to develop them the best way I can.”
In due time, Brice expects Chichester to become a vaunted program under his guidance. In terms of wins and losses, the Eagles have struggled for several years. During Smith’s nine seasons at the helm, the Eagles posted a 30-72 overall record and a 9-36 mark in the Del Val League.
Chichester hasn’t had a winning campaign since 2005.
“When you try to change or implement your own philosophies, and to change the culture, it doesn’t happen overnight,” Brice said. “It’s definitely going to take some years, take some buy-in from the players and the community. I do see it as a long-term thing. I’d like to — I don’t want to say rebuild a culture here, because I think Ryan’s done a great job. There’s not many people as hard-working as Ryan. I think a good phrase would be to continue to build on the culture he’s already put in place.”
Brice and Smith are colleagues at Chichester. Smith has been there for Brice to answer his questions and provide advice about how to lead the program.
“Ryan’s been nothing but supportive in this whole process,” Brice said. “Any question that I’ve had — which were a lot of questions — he was very, very good with the whole process, answering everything and trying to be the best help he can be. I think I have a very good relationship with Ryan and he’s been awesome throughout this process.”
All Brice has ever known, however, is Ches-Mont League football. He realizes his novice status as a first-year head coach offers some immediate challenges, especially coming into a new league, the Del Val, which has been dominated by Penn Wood the last two seasons. Coincidentally, Rustin was the only team to defeat Penn Wood in 2018, doing so both in a regular season meeting and in the District 1 Class 5A semifinals.
“The Del Val, I think, is just as competitive as the Ches-Mont. There’s a lot less teams, obviously,” Brice said. “I think Ato Troop is doing a good job over at Penn Wood. I mean, they were the No. 1 seed in District 1 (Class 5A) last year. They’re a very powerful team. Academy Park is very well-coached, a very good team year in and year out. I think (Steve) Lennox has established himself to be a Delaware County coaching legend over at Interboro. Glen Mills is always hit or miss, but they always have a pretty strong team. And Chester, based on what I’ve read last year, is on the rise as well.
“It’s a very, very competitive league and I would love to try to make our team competitive in it. Obviously, I have a lot of learning to do, since I’ve been so intertwined with the Ches-Mont that I have only hearsay about the Del Val.”
Brice will bring over the offensive system from Rustin to Chichester, which is a modified version of the Wing-T.
“At Rustin, I ran a version of the Spread Wing-T that I was fortunate enough to sit down with Bill Zwaan over at West Chester University to try and develop that offense,” he said. “It’s similar to what he runs over there. So, it’s a concept of the old-school Wing-T methods run from various formations and the spread. The whole philosophy, effectively, is to control the clock and tempo of the game.”
Brice is busy assembling his coaching staff as he begins to lay the groundwork for the 2019 season. This summer, Brice is getting married, so he has a lot on his plate. But that doesn’t deter his work ethic one bit.
When it comes to turning Chichester football around, Brice is all-in.
“I’d like to handle everything I want to change in the program, but that will take time,” he said. “My No. 1 goal right now is to try and get the kids to buy-in and that will perpetuate winning in the long run.”
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