1995-2014 The End of an Era

 
 

Feb 24, 2014

 

Mark Schmidt steps down;

legendary status secure after 19-year reign

LANGHORNE: It was June of 1995. The old master, Dick Bedesem, had recently retired as head coach of Neshaminy’s football team following some tough seasons. And if the truth be told, the once invincible Red & Blue was looking a little tired on the heels of a choppy couple of decades. Plus with Bedesem’s departure the storm clouds suddenly seemed darker as it was obvious the ‘Skins needed a strong hand to right the listing ship - and in a hurry. Still, as dire as it may have appeared, the gloom wouldn’t last long at all. For seemingly out of nowhere a young man of 34, relatively unknown in local football circles, arrived at Heartbreak Ridge. Introduced to the Redskin faithful just in time for the upcoming season it wasn’t immediately clear whether the new coach had the right stuff; however, in short order the new head man would show he had plenty. In fact, Mark Schmidt would show that he had the stuff of legends.

A Delaware Valley boy, Schmidt attended Lower Moreland high. Graduating in 1978, and after starring for the Lions as a defenseman on the grid, Schmidt then attended Ursinus College where he continued to excel at his linebacker position. After pocketing his sheepskin, and with the game of football his passion, he began his professional career as a coach at Norristown High. Over the subsequent 13 years he rode the circuit, at both the high school and college level, serving as an assistant coach from Kentucky to Temple and a few more schools in between. But it was only with his arrival in Langhorne that Schmidt first had the opportunity to wear the title of “Head Coach”. And what a wonderful fit it would prove to be.

Not all peaches and cream right out of the gate, though, the first year for the young Schmidt was a bit rocky as his charges won just one game in the tough SOL National league. But in 1996 and ’97 the obviously resurgent ‘Skins posted a 14 and 6 overall under their new coach. Then clearly gaining its footing, three more seasons saw the program continue to improve with the 2000 squad coming in at 8-2. What followed next put any question about the abilities of Coach Schmidt and his boys to rest when his 2001 team finished 15-0 as Neshaminy earned the gold in Hershey. Ranked number one in Pennsylvania at season’s end, and seventh in the country in USA Today’s final poll, just like that Schmidt had taken the Redskins back to the top.

Not sitting back on their early success, the 12 years that followed that state championship season have been no less exciting or successful as the Schmidt coached ‘Skins have consistently exemplified Pennsylvania scholastic grid excellence. With records falling by the board and achievements piling up like cordwood, some highlights of the Schmidt era include the following:

  • Schmidt’s overall record during his 19 years is 161-66 for a winning percentage of 71% over a period just shy of two decades

  • From 2000 through 2013 his teams were 137-39 winning 78% of their games during that run

  • Schmidt’s teams made the PIAA playoffs in 11 of his 19 seasons establishing a record of 26-10 in the post-season with an overall winning percentage of 72% during “Second Season” play

  • His teams were SOL National champions six times

  • Schmidt’s Redskins played for the District One title five times with three D1 trophies now locked in the glass case for their efforts

  • The ‘Skins were Eastern Pennsylvania Champions twice under Schmidt and two trips to Hershey produced a gold football in 2001 and a silver in 2004

  • Schmidt has produced two 2,500-plus yard rushers (Jamar Brittingham with 2,565 and D’Andre Pollard who came in just under 3,000) and a 2,000-plus yarder as well (Georg Coleman in 2004)

  • Three other Schmidt running backs logged more than 1,600 yards (Jarred Kinney with 1,668 in 2005, Sean Ulmer with 1,800-plus in 2007 and Nate Hall also with 1,800-plus in 2012)

  • Of the top six all time scoring teams in Neshaminy’s history, five are Schmidt coached clubs (2013 - 531, 2004 - 466, 2007 - 449, 2005 - 448, 1960 - 436 and 2010 - 423)

  • The all time single season Redskin scoring champion is a Schmidt player, D’Andre Pollard, who tallied 39 scores in 2013 (234 points) which broke Bob Baxter’s record of 191 set in 1962

  • Eleven of Schmidt’s players were selected to play in the Big 33 with 10 suiting up for the East-West game and numerous others in the Chesapeake Bowl and the NJ-Northeast classic

  • Some 30 plus of Schmidt’s players have been honored with all state status

  • On a personal note Schmidt earned Coach of The Year awards in 2001 and 2004 while he also served as the head coach of the south team in the Bucks County all star classic many times and was the head coach of the Pennsylvania squad in the Big 33 and the Northeast team in the NJ-Northeast classic

  • On another note of personal achievement, Schmidt was also voted into the Pennsylvania State Football Coaches Association’s Hall of Fame in 2012

With many more achievements and records earned over the years (including most seasons and games coached at Neshaminy and most wins too) along with enough accolades and awards to fill a warehouse, suffice it say that Schmidt’s time at Heartbreak Ridge set a standard that in many ways will be the benchmark at Neshaminy. And considering the names of some of the greats who preceded him – Mike DeRisi, Harry Franks, John Petercuskie, Jack Swartz, Pete Cordelli, Pal Allison, John Chaump and Dick Bedesem – to have raised the bar as he did was no small feat.

Schmidt also was tireless in promoting the Neshaminy school district, the team and his players during his time at the Ridge. A statesman for Langhorne, when Schmidt was out in public there was no question he was representing Neshaminy and representing it well. And when it came to “next level” players, Schmidt was instrumental in getting many, many of his Redskins into colleges and universities where they made Neshaminy proud. Plus besides pushing his players to deliver their best on the field, the same could be said as to what he expected of them both in the classroom and in the conduct of their young lives.

Now with his departure from Langhorne how much he gave will soon become more evident through the crystal-clear view of time. So rather than try and capture it all in this short tribute, we’ll end with this:

Coach Schmidt we thank you for the time you gave the Redskins; the 19 years that you stood on the sidelines and guided the fortunes of Langhorne’s football club will never be forgotten. Plus if ever there was a “Neshaminy guy” you are it. Your legacy of achievement is established and it is permanent. Rest assured too that the club of “greats” who have guided the ‘Skins over the years now has a new member – Coach Mark Schmidt. And although many more words could be written in tribute, maybe the short version is just that we’ll miss you Coach, we’ll surely miss you.

 

Below is a list of some of Coach Schmidt's highlights

during his 19 years as head coach at Neshaminy.

Coach Schmidt's introduction in 1995

Coach Schmidt's Record: 1995-2013

2001: The Road to Hershey

2001 Playoffs Photo Gallery

Coach Schmidt is 2004 Coach of the Year

Coach Schmidt is the School's most prolific coach with game 124

Coach Schmidt banks his 100th win

Coach Schmidt inducted into Coaches Hall of Fame

Coach Schmidt & the team celebrate 500th school win

In his final season, Coach Schmidt's 'Skins win District One

Courier articles about the retirement:

Courier: Schmidt Earned Respect From His Peers

Courier: Schmidts Legacy... and Success Will Resonate...

Courier: Schmidt Resigns as Neshaminy Football Coach

 

 

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