By Rob Centorani Staff Writer
The Daily Star
---- — Oneonta High has a new football coach, but he’s not new to Oneonta nor to coaching varsity football.
John Mushtare, an assistant varsity football coach at OHS the past six seasons, was recommended to replace Adam Hoover as the Yellowjackets head coach at a school board meeting Wednesday night.
OHS athletic director Joe Hughes said it’s a mere formality that Mushtare will become OHS’ next varsity head coach.
“I feel confident with John leading the football program in the future,” said Hughes, who added the opening drew interest from numerous coaches in and out of the district. “He’s organized and he’ll have us prepared. I feel real confident in his football knowledge and ability to prepare a team.”
Mushtare inherits a team that went 2-7 last season under Hoover, who opted to step aside in February after compiling a 24-36 record over seven seasons that included a Section Four Class B playoff appearance in 2009.
Mushtare headed Unatego’s varsity program from 2004-06, going 17-10, a mark that included a 7-2 record in his final season.
It doesn’t sound as if Mushtare thinks it will take long to turn the Yellowjackets into a winning program.
“I’d like to be .500 or better this coming year and competing for a division title in year two,” he said.
Wholesale changes appear to be on the way from the varsity level down to the modified team.
“Uniformity is imperative,” Mushtare said of having all levels utilizing the same playbook. “We’re going to spin all of the coaches up. We’re going to educate them and they’re going to be teachers. We’re going to teach more than ever before to this group.”
Offensively, Mushtare said the no-huddle look the Jackets ran under Hoover largely will be disbanded. He also said OHS will run its offense out of a spread-formation alignment, along with running a lot of option.
“I’d like to be scoring five TDs a game, and running up and down the field,” he said. “If we do that, the kids will buy into that quickly.”
Mushtare said six sophomores — Skylar Thompson, Sam Sherrill, Noah Sheehan, Matt Bitzer, Austin Scheer and Dalton Ormsby — will provide a solid core for the 2013 season. All of them played varsity football last season.
As for the challenge that all OHS football coaches have faced — competing for talent with a perennial strong soccer program — Mushtare said: “Fortunately, looking down the line here, we have a tremendous amount of athletes that will fulfill the needs of both programs.”
Mushtare added that the low numbers OHS dealt with this past season — the Yellowjackets started 2012 with 21 players — should not be a problem in the coming seasons.
“We’d like to be in the high 20s to low 30s,” Mushtare said of his probable roster size. “The participation level 10th grade and down is excellent.”
As for his coaching staff, Mushtare said he’s in the process of putting one together but mentioned no names.
The summer following Mushtare’s final season heading the Spartans, Unatego’s school board voted not to bring Mushtare back. That decision came July 18, 2007. The school board declined to give a reason for Mushtare’s dismissal.
Mushtare had no comment on the end of his run at Unatego. A few weeks later, he was hired at Oneonta.
“He’s one of the most respected teachers in the district,” Hughes said of Mushtare, who is also the Yellowjackets’ junior varsity baseball coach. “He’s a quality teacher and a quality human being. Kids who play for him like and respect him. I have no reservations of his ability to lead young men and women as a teacher and a coach.”
Rob Centorani can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 607-432-1000, ext. 209.