By Steve Sherman
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BRISTOL BORO – It’s official – John Greiner is the new head coach of the Bristol High School Football Warriors. Greiner makes the move to the Borough after putting in 15 years as an assistant coach at Pennsbury.
The decision to accept Greiner over eight other applicants was approved by the BBSD School Board on June 11.
For the Falcons, Greiner did everything from guiding the JV program, to the O-line and the D-line. Most recently, he coached the tight ends and receivers at Pennsbury, which captured the District 1 Quad-A championship in 2014.
Guiding the Warriors is the perfect fit for him, says Greiner, who currently resides in Newtown.
“Over the past five or six years, I’ve yearned for the opportunity to run my own program,” he said.
“This is the perfect place for me for me to coach at because of the fact that I’m used to working with smaller numbers, working with the freshmen and sophomores and the JV groups.”
Three years ago when former skipper Leo Plenski took the reins of team, Bristol had been floundering, winning just seven games in two previous campaigns. In three seasons, Plenski guided the Warriors to 28 wins against only eight losses.
Now, Greiner comes in seven months after Plenski took Bristol to its third District 1/12 title game in three campaigns. While the Warriors dropped a 15-14 heartbreaker to Springfield in the district championship, Plenski guided Bristol to wins in the other two title tilts and also to a victory over South Williamsport in the 2014 PIAA Class A quarterfinals.
Greiner also comes in on the heels of the boys varsity basketball team winning back-to-back district championships. Coming from Pennsbury, Greiner says he’s quite familiar dealing with the pressure to win.
“You always have the internal pressure that you put on yourself,” added Greiner.
The Warriors may play at a different level in a different league than the Falcons but Bristol shares a lot of commonalities with Pennsbury, the coach explains. And that lends itself to winning, he says.
“The players here get a lot of academic support in the classroom, the same as Pennsbury has done over the years. And you have a lot of community support, as well. From what I can see so far and what I know about Bristol, you have a lot of community pride from an athletic standpoint.
“And you have the athletes themselves, who want to do well and perform well.
“When you have those three things working together, the winning will take care of itself.”
The new coach comes in a year after the departure of record-setting running back Donte Simmons, who notched over 6,660 yards during his career with the Warriors. Last year alone, he registered over 2,050 yards while reaching paydirt 27 times for the Red and White.
Without Simmons – who last season broke the lower Bucks career rushing record of 5,998 yards held by Steve Slaton (Conwell-Egan/Class of 2004), Bristol will turn to halfbacks Eric Bell, Eli Moore and Samir Brisbon, along with fullback Rodney Courtney.
“Everybody will have a chance to carry the ball,” said returning senior quarterback R.J. Collins. “That’s the beauty of having all these skill guys here with us. Together, everyone is going to be able to make up for what (Donte) was able to do.”
But Simmons isn’t the only significant departure from the Warriors. Split ends/ defensive backs Kyle Slivka-Fralin and Aidan Coughlin are gone as well as most of the offensive linemen who blocked for Simmons and played along the D-line.
Gone are guards Robert Jones and Robert Bryson, tackles Devin Adams and Jeremiah Haywood, as well as tight end Isaiah Carroll. Only center Danny Collins, a 5-11, 235-pound incoming sophomore who started last season, and incoming junior Aaron Pulinario, a 6-foot, 190-pounder who can play on both sides of the ball, are returning.
All is not lost says Collins, however.
“I see positive things,” said Collins. “Just because we’re missing a few players from last year, the goal and the mentality is the same as always – to win the state title like every other team in Pennsylvania.”
“I’m sure the new coach will find the correct players to compete for those positions and we’ll be successful.”
As to what type of offense the fans in the stands will see from Bristol, Greiner isn’t tipping his hat, not yet anyway. The Wing-T, which was featured at Pennsbury, is an option he says and would look a lot different than what people saw under Plenski, who liked to spread the offense out.
“We’re still trying to figure that out,” said Greiner. “Right now, I’m looking at all the pieces to the puzzle and figuring out what we can run best and excel with the athletes that we do have.
What the new coach does have is 56 players who have signed up, 25 of which he’s averaging in offseason drills. The coach is seeking more upperclassmen – he has 17 of those, as opposed to 34 freshman and sophomores, combined.
The goal is to start camp in August with 40 players, says Greiner.
“If we have everybody come out here and work hard, the possibilities are endless as to what we can do,” commented Collins.
While the Warriors won nine games last season, Bristol sputtered to the finish line, dropping three of their last four regular season matchups before going 1-1 in districts.
The 2015 season starts Sept. 4 in a battle with Philadelphia Public League rival Kensington. The game kicks off at 3 p.m. at the Simon Gratz Supersite.
NOTES: Greiner is a 1993 graduate of Pennsbury and 1996 graduate of Millersville University. He earned a Masters in Education at Holy Family University and has taught social studies at Pennsbury for the past 15 years.
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