Eastern York turns to coach from rival school to jump-start its football program

·5 min read

Eastern York High School found its new head football coach right across the Susquehanna River.

After spending the last five seasons as the head coach at Columbia High School, Daryl "Bud" Kyle was approved as the new leader of the Eastern York program last Thursday. According to school board documents, Kyle will make a yearly stipend of $6,857 at Eastern York.

Separated by about five miles on opposite sides of the river, Eastern York and Columbia have always been fierce non-conference rivals and typically play each other on opening night of football season. Eastern York athletic director Don Knaub said he believes Kyle will be the first person to serve as a head coach at both schools — in any sport.

A 2005 York High grad, Kyle said the rivalry didn't play a big factor in his decision to take the Eastern job, though he did say it will be interesting to face his former team Week 1 this upcoming fall.

"I didn't grow up in Columbia so I always prepared for that (Eastern) game like any other game," he said. "It was a tough decision to leave, and it's bittersweet. This is an opportunity to coach at a bigger school, and it's the best thing for my family."

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Bud Kyle served as Columbia High School's head football coach the past five seasons.
Bud Kyle served as Columbia High School's head football coach the past five seasons.

A Class 4A football program, Eastern York has struggled over the past decade. Former head coach Josh Campbell was not brought back after the Knights went 9-27 in four seasons under him, but he was also the program's fifth head coach since 2010. The Knights only had one winning season (7-4 in 2014) during that stretch.

Eastern now turns to a head coach who helped turn around his last program.

A Class 2A program, Columbia was coming off back-to-back one-win seasons when Kyle was hired as head coach in 2017. The Crimson Tide went winless his first year, but improved to 3-7, 4-6 and 4-4 (COVID-abbreviated 2020) the next three seasons.

This past fall, Columbia went 8-2 and won its first Lancaster-Lebanon League section title since 2002. The Crimson Tide lost in the District 3 Class 2A semifinals, 58-48, to Upper Dauphin.

"He's got a proven track record," Knaub saud. "His personality will fit great at Eastern, and he will do a good job relating to kids and pushing to get the most out of them. We've heard nothing but good things about him, and kids love playing for him."

While Eastern hasn't earned many wins in recent years, it has had a number of good offenses featuring talented quarterbacks and receivers. Rising senior quarterback Austin Billet (nearly 2,100 passing yards, 20 touchdowns) was named first-team YAIAA Division II this past fall.

Kyle succeeded with a similar offense at Columbia. The Crimson Tide averaged 45 points and 447 yards per game this past season as all-state quarterback Robert Footman became the first player in L-L history to throw for more than 3,000 yards, rush for 500 yards and score 50 total touchdowns in the one season. Footman just received an offer to play college football for Division II Millersville.

Kyle said Eastern will still run a spread offense next season, but people shouldn't be surprised if the Knights utilize the run more.

After going 2-8 last season, Eastern will bring back a handful of starters at offensive line, defense and running back. But it did graduate all-state receiver Bryce Currier, who will play college football at Division III Ithaca College.

"We will look at the strengths and weaknesses of our opponents, and we'll be balanced," Kyle said. "We've got a good group coming up that will give us depth. Austin is a very talented kid, and we've already talked a little bit. He's excited, and I think he can have a big senior season.

"We are going to do the right things in school and make sure everyone knows what is expected of each other."

Austin Billet (3) throws the open man during the football game between York Suburban and Eastern York at York Suburban High School, Saturday, September 19, 2020. The Trojans defeated the Golden Knights 43-28.
Austin Billet (3) throws the open man during the football game between York Suburban and Eastern York at York Suburban High School, Saturday, September 19, 2020. The Trojans defeated the Golden Knights 43-28.

A Dallastown resident who works as a behavioral specialist, Kyle has been a part of a number of strong football programs during his life.

He played under Matt Ortega at York High and still stays in touch with the former Bearcats coach, who now coaches District 1 powerhouse Coatesville. A linebacker, Kyle went to Division I FCS St. Francis before transferring to Millersville.

After spending two years as the freshman coach at York High, he became a varsity assistant at Steel-High. The Rollers have long been one of the state's best small-school programs.

He said he took the lessons he learned from those programs to Columbia — a team he said was frequently picked to be its opponents' homecoming game when he arrived.

Kyle said he's planning to meet with Eastern York's players this week to go over the offseason training program.

"You have to make sure to hold people accountable and that they understand it's a team sport," Kyle said. "At York High, we were a brotherhood and didn't let each other make mistakes. You've gotta understand you need to love, trust and respect each other. Once you get that buy-in, you get results. That's what they have at Steel-High. Those kids are always tight and together."

Matt Allibone is a sports reporter for GameTimePA. He can be reached at 717-881-8221, mallibone@ydr.com or on Twitter at @bad2theallibone.

This article originally appeared on York Daily Record: PIAA football: Eastern York hires Columbia's Bud Kyle as head coach

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