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Noon set to take reins at Wissahickon

LOWER GWYNEDD — Paul Noon may be switching jobs, but he won’t have any trouble remembering the name of his team’s mascot.

Noon is trading in one set of Trojans for another as he was announced as the new football coach at Wissahickon Friday morning. After spending the last two years as the head coach at Valley Forge Military Academy, also nicknamed the Trojans, Noon was ready for a new challenge.

“I won’t have to change my passwords to too many things,’ Noon joked as he was introduced at the school on Friday.

Football is in Noon’s blood. Born and raised in Pottsville, he played collegiately at Susquehanna University while pursing a degree in psychology before continuing his Master’s work in secondary school counseling at the University of Scranton. From there, he began a career in school counseling while also getting into the coaching game.

Taking a guidance counselor position at Bok Technical School in Philadelphia, Noon also found a place on the football coaching staff working with the offensive and defensive lines. With two uncles and grandfather who coached and also played line, Noon put his experience to work, helping Bok’s program begin a turnaround.

After two years at Bok, Noon was offered a new opportunity, this time as a head coach at West Philadelphia High School. Again, Noon brought some quick success.

“It was a team that had never had a winning season in 20 years,’ Noon said. “Eight kids showed up to the first practice. We turned it around and had an 11-1 year.’

Budget constraints in the district cut guidance counselor positions, so Noon was again on the move, this time landing at Valley Forge. Again, it was another team in need of some program building. VFMA was transitioning from post-graduate school to PIAA competition and played his first year as a non-PIAA school before being recognized this year.

Valley Forge made the District I Class AA playoffs last fall, another quick turnaround for Noon and his staff.

While Wissahickon struggled last year, going 1-6 in the Suburban One League American Conference and 2-8 overall, the new coach does not see this like his previous stops. For one thing, he had 58 kids in his first informational meeting. Second, after pouring over tape and game footage, he feels his new Trojans are much closer than the teams he practically had to start from scratch at West and Valley Forge.

“The previous regime, I talked to some people in the school and asked why they were stepping down,’ Noon said. “I felt like a lot of things that are in place here aren’t usually in place for a program that went 2-8. I’m lucky because I feel like I can step in right now and start winning because of what they did.’

Noon described himself as tough-minded, referencing his upbringing in the state’s coal region. But he also stressed that the players in his program would feel individualized and be given a say in the way things are done. Community outreach is also something important to Noon and he again credited the previous coaching staff for the work they had done in that area.

Building a close rapport with his players was easier at his earlier stops, all smaller schools than Wissahickon. He expects it to take a bit longer to build those relationships with every player, but it is something he’s looking forward to.

“That 2-8 is pretty deceiving I think,’ Noon said. “Four of those losses could have easily been wins. There were a couple plays here and there that were mental mistakes that could have had them having a very successful season.’

With a background in line play and fundamentals, Noon said his vision is a team that doesn’t make mistakes and hand games away. He described his philosophy as conservative in that regard, but reiterated that he wants to work with his players to get their input.

Noon will finish out the school year in his guidance counselor position at Valley Forge before taking a counselor position at Wissahickon for next year, allowing him to be in the district where he will be coaching.

He hopes to have three of his assistants from Valley Forge come over with him, saying they have applied and are going through the hiring process with Wissahickon.

Noon said he is looking forward to competing in the SOL, specifically the American Conference Wissahickon resides in. He was confident the talent is already in place to start going toe-to-toe with the top of the league.

His track record speaks to quick success and Noon hopes that the entire Wissahickon community is able to experience it. He stressed inclusion and that at the end of it all, it’s about more than the games on Friday nights.

“Our mission statement is I want our men to be successful,’ Noon said. “That’s not just in high school but 10 years from now. If they do learn a tough love lesson when they’re 16 or 17 I hope when I see them when they’re 28 at a homecoming game, they’re shaking my hand and they’re successful because of the lessons they learned through football.’

 

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