Tom Trone said the timing couldn’t have been better.
York County’s longtime assistant football coach had always aspired to lead a program and said there were opportunities he could have pursued over the years. But it was never the right time for him personally. These jobs were either not close enough to where he lived or would have prevented him from training his children.
Then his alma mater, where he works as a teacher, began looking for a new head coach just as his son was finishing his high school career.
“It’s kind of funny how it all worked out,” Trone said.
Trone was approved as the head football coach at Spring Grove last week. According to the school board’s agenda from his hire, his annual stipend is $6,500. A 1993 graduate of the school, Trone is the son of Tom Trone Sr., who served as Spring Grove’s head football coach from the mid-1970s to 1990. The father and son later served together as assistant coaches under Gregg Trone, the elder Trone’s successor – who is not related to them.
After 12 years as a coach at Spring Grove, Tom Trone went to his home school district of South Western following the retirement of Gregg Trone in 2010. He trained under four head coaches there and served as defensive coordinator under current Mustang coach Tony Shermeyer. His son Carson was a standout safety and wide receiver for the Mustangs last season and will play for Millersville University next fall.
Trone said he’s glad he could train Spring Grove on Friday nights and still be able to travel to PSAC football games on Saturdays for years to come.
“If Carson had decided to go further away, it would have been more difficult, but I think everything will work out,” said Trone. “This is the program that my father built. We have some nice facilities and children in Spring Grove at the moment. Being a head coach is a full-time job and I never wanted to waste time with my kids, but this is the right solution.”
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Although Trone hasn’t coached at Spring Grove for more than a decade, he’s still very acquainted with many of the school’s football players. The 48-year-old has trained against them in recent years, but also taught them a lot. Trone has been a history teacher at Spring Grove Area Middle School for the past 24 years.
His goal will be to bring stability to a program that will now have its third head coach in the last three seasons. Kyle Sprenkle resigned in 2021 after seven seasons to help his wife raise their six children. Will Thompson just spent last season as head coach and resigned a day after Spring Grove’s loss in the season finale to South Western in October. A change.org petition was briefly created (then deleted) calling for Thompson’s firing – but the coach and school declined to comment.
Trone said he believes his familiarity with the program and the community was probably a big reason he was hired.
“It’s hard for kids to have so many coaches in a short amount of time,” said Jeff Laux, Spring Grove athletic director. “We believe that (Trone) will bring stability and sustain our momentum for an extended period of time.
Spring Grove has come off a 5-5 season but was in the playoffs until the final week of the season. It’s been a solid campaign for a program that wrapped up a huge senior class going 10-2 with two playoff wins in 2021. The Rockets won just four games from 2017-19 but returned to prominence over the next two seasons under Sprenkle.
But Trone has spent most of his life with successful Spring Grove football teams and will bring some of the players from those teams back to the program. Wes Yohe and Ben Redding, who played for the District 3 runners-up team the Rockets in 2001, will join his coaching staff. Sprenkle, who also featured prominently on this team, will return as a volunteer assistant.
The Rockets will also have a slew of returning talent in a potentially wide-open YAIAA Division I next fall. Up-and-coming senior lineman Michael Hershey is a Division I recruit. Quarterback Cowan Ruhland has had some notable starting time the last two seasons. Nizeah Mummert was a breakout star at running back and receiver last fall.
Trone said he wants the Rockets to be able to adjust their playstyle each year depending on their staff. He also said he wants his assistant coaches to be willing to speak up and bounce ideas off of him. When former South Western assistant Jarrel Burnett was hired as Hannover head coach in January, he said it was “a stroke of luck” to be working with Trone.
“You have to be able to adapt every year,” Trone said. “But it’s not like cleaning the house. A number of (Wizards) are returning and as I have already told them the communication is tremendous. It takes a huge load off you as a head coach. It’s not like our closet is empty. Our youth program is pretty strong and we have some young people that no one knows about.”
Hanover (Burnett), West York (Ron Miller) and Fairfield (Jake Johnson) also hired new football coaches this offseason. York County Tech is also looking for a head coach.
Matt Allibone is a sports reporter for GameTimePA. He can be reached at 717-881-8221, [email protected] or on Twitter at @bad2theallibone.