Ed Gallagher took over a program in its darkest hour and soon had them celebrating under the Friday night lights.
“I’ve enjoyed the relationships that I’ve established with my fellow coaches and players,” Gallagher said of his time with Big Red. “It’s been very rewarding to see so many of my former players go on to successful careers, including several who have returned to Souderton to help on our coaching staff.”
Gallagher has led the way, and this past Friday, the Indians coach earned his 100th career victory, as Big Red shut down Council Rock North 31-8 to improve to 2-0 on the season.
“It was truly a satisfying milestone for me and our program considering where we started,” said Gallagher. “We took over a program that had lost 14 straight games and had suffered through five consecutive losing seasons.
“After a challenging first season, we have been able to keep Souderton football competitive on a yearly basis for the past 17 years.”
Turning it around >> Since taking over in 2003, Gallagher has left his imprint on the program.
“The most important thing that we tried to establish from the onset was a strong work ethic,” the coach said. “We placed a huge emphasis on our strength and conditioning program, which eventually led to the team playing with improved confidence.”
Big Red had back-to-back winning seasons in 2004 and ’05 and then reached the postseason in 2006.
“Making the District One playoffs for the first time in 2006 was a huge step for the program,” Gallagher said. “We were able to win the first playoff game in school history over Downingtown East (42-14) before falling to Abington on a late field goal in the second round (25-22). The expectation here now is to make the playoffs on a regular basis, which is exactly what you want in a program.”
The journey has been an enjoyable one.
Said Gallagher: “I grew up in Allentown, so it was definitely an adjustment when I started coaching in this area in 1997 (at Pennridge). I was very fortunate to have those years as an assistant coach to become acclimated to Suburban One League football, and I felt fully prepared to run my own program by 2003.
“I moved to Souderton that year when I accepted this job, and the community has been incredibly supportive throughout my years. The administration at Souderton has made my job as easy as possible considering all of the variables that go into running a high school football program. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else – I am truly blessed to have been given this opportunity.”
A football friendship >> Gallagher, quite simply, is a guy you want to play for.
“Being able to play for coach Gallagher has been a very wonderful experience,” senior middle linebacker Jacob Horton said. “I have known him my whole life with my brothers coming through the system and it feels more like a friendship than a coach-player relationship. You can tell he cares a lot about his players but balances his care for the game and team with his drive to win very well. He’s always positive and a good leader and person to be around.
“I think the 100th win meant a lot to everybody. I felt very honored to be on the team for Gallagher’s 100th win, even better because of how dominant we played that game. It was a truly special moment for the team and coach Gallagher even though he tried to hide his emotion after the game.”
Aonghas Evanick finds extra inspiration in the trenches when it comes to playing for Gallagher and Big Red.
“Playing for coach Gallagher has been really helpful and informative, as we are one of the few teams who still runs the Wing-T offense,” Evanick said. “He clearly loves the game and is so involved with the team.
“He works really hard to teach us good old fashioned football, and to teach us hard work and a winning attitude. The teams success clearly represents his discipline and vision for the team. Last Friday’s win was very important to us and the program because it justifies and validates Gallagher’s coaching style and characteristics that he preaches. Last Friday’s win also put us in a great position to continue to be successful for the rest of the season, and make this year something special.”
Said Jalen White, a senior speedster at halfback: “It’s been fun and one heck of a ride playing for coach Gallagher.”
Souderton 31, Council Rock North 8 >> Brayden Porter scored three touchdowns and rushed for over a hundred yards as Big Red’s Wing-T continued to rumble.
Pennridge 30, Neshaminy 0 >> Shane Hartzell was a key part of a Ram defense that completely shut down the Skins.
Neshaminy just could never find any running room. For the evening, Neshaminy was held to just 164 yards of total offense.
Plymouth Whitemarsh 47, Muhlenberg 7 >> Chris Mclaughlin hit Dylan Duran for an 84-yard touchdown, part of an offensive extravaganza for PW. The Colonials led 34-7 at halftime and pushed this one into mercy-rule territory in the third quarter.