Perkiomen Valley stayed in-house in its search for a new head coach after the retirement of longtime head coach Scott Reed.
It’s safe to say Reed’s replacement will make sure the Vikings hit the ground running in 2016.
Longtime quarterbacks and defensive backs coach Rob Heist was approved by the Perkiomen Valley school board as the new football head coach Monday night, a decision that spells good news for the continuity of a team and staff that has thrived over recent seasons.
“I’m just really, really excited about it,” the 36-year-old Perkiomen Valley and Shippensburg alumnus said. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, to be named the head football coach at my alma mater is just an honor for me. To get the chance to represent the community I grew up in, it’s something I’ve always wanted.
“Ever since I couldn’t play anymore, I wanted to be involved in the game. Coaching was the next best thing and I love it. I still feel the same way on Friday nights at 36 years old as I did when I was 18.”
Heist’s promotion comes after 12 years of being an assistant coach with the Vikings’ program. Hired in 2003, Heist served as an eighth grade coach and moved up to the role of assistant freshman coach alongside Tim Walsh from 2004-2006 before becoming the quarterbacks and defensive backs coach in 2007. Under his guidance, the Vikings have produced two of the area’s best quarterbacks in Rasaan Stewart (Class of 2013 and now at Villanova) and Stephen Sturm, who broke PAC-10 records for passing yards and passing touchdowns in a single season in 2015.
And no doubt, the hiring of the Heist provides the ability to maintain the continuity of a group and staff that has made the district playoffs three years running.
“For the team in general, I feel that continuity was important to them,” Heist said. “With the familiarity they have with myself and the rest of the staff — which are obviously staying on — I feel like we can continue without missing too many beats. We’re going to put the kids in the best position to be successful that we can.”
His relationship with Sturm can only grow after the two have proved to be in sync throughout the junior’s already-impressive career. Sturm returns after throwing for a PAC single-season best 3,087 yards and 31 touchdowns. Justin Jaworski (74 receptions for 1,195 yards), Sean Owens and David Williams headline the team’s offensive returners that helped the team advance to the second round of districts last season.
“He (Sturm) understands where I’m coming from. I’m trying to prepare him for his senior season and beyond,” Heist said. “I understand where his goals are and I feel like we’re able to communicate well together.”
Heist, a history teacher at the high school, takes over a team that thrived under the guidance of Reed, who announced his retirement after 12 seasons in December. Under Reed, the Vikings claimed two PAC-10 championships and four District 1-AAAA playoff appearances, most notably the school’s first-ever district semifinal berth in 2013. But it was the way Reed carried himself that stood out most to Heist, who will try to emulate the man that defined success for the orange and brown the past decade.
“Oh, man. It’s been a wild ride with Reedy,” Heist said. “He’s an amazing football mind. I learned a lot from how he carried himself as a head coach. He always tried to be positive. The thing that stands out to me about him was the passion that he has for the game of football. Everyday he just came with this energy, this passion. He loved football. It helped him focus and it was inspiring for us and the players, just seeing how much he was into it. That’s the biggest thing I’ve learned from him and I hope to do that myself.
Now, it’s Heist’s time to deliver … and he can’t be more excited about it.
“I’m most excited to just have the opportunity to coach an awesome group of kids,” he said. “I love our players, I love the community support we get at PV, the amazing outpouring of fans that come out to see our home games and even our away games. Being a part of that Spring-Ford game last year as an example, even though we came out on the wrong side and it wasn’t the outcome we hoped for, just being apart of that game in front of 9,000 people was an awesome experience. I’m just excited to be involved with a lot more games like that I hope.”