Cradle of high school coaches: Mo Valley boasts four grads who have climbed the ladder | News, Sports, Jobs

HOUTZDALE — There are only so many head coaching positions for varsity football in Pennsylvania.

Schools with dwindling numbers combining to co-op with another district in football is becoming more prevalent, which in return also eliminates coaching positions.

Although some football programs have lost momentum, that doesn’t seem to be the case at Moshannon Valley High School, at least when it comes to coaching.

Mo Valley currently has four graduates who are now varsity football head coaches in the area in Hollidaysburg’s Homer DeLattre, Clearfield’s Tim Janocko, Philipsburg-Osceola’s Jeff Vroman and Mo Valley’s Michael Keith. Northern Bedford has three graduates who are head coaches in the area, and Penn Cambria, Bishop Guilfoyle and Portage all have two alums who have gone on to be football coaches in central Pennsylvania.

Traced to Camberg

Moshannon Valley is one of the smaller schools in central Pennsylvania, consistently graduating well under 100 students per year. What is Mo Valley’s secret to producing so many future head coaches?

It depends on which of the head coaches you ask, but part of the answer has to do with former Black Knight head coach Howie Camberg, who was inducted into the PSFCA Hall of Fame in 2006 and finished his career with 168 career victories from 1978- 2005.

“I knew they were all very interested in football. They were all very intelligent,” Camberg said of his proteges. “They wanted to learn the game, and not just play the game.”

Janocko, who is entering his 38th season at Clearfield, graduated from Mo Valley in 1977 when Camberg was the defensive coordinator under head coach Bob Sinclair, another Mo Valley grad.

“It’s a phenomenal thing that has occurred,” Janocko said. “For some reason, a small school like that has turned out so many high school football coaches in Pennsylvania. I would say Mo Valley has to have as many head coaches in the state, if not the most.

“(Camberg) was very loyal to his players. You knew he had your back. He was really fun to play for.”

Present and past

Vroman, a 1987 graduate, started his coaching career as an assistant under Camberg after his collegiate career as a kicker at Lock Haven.

He also pointed out that while the Black Knights can claim four current head coaches, there are many more former coaches. He noted DuBois’ Herm Wertz, Wyalusing’s Ray Raffin, Glendale’s Gary Walstrom, Corry’s Adam Walstrom, and Vroman’s uncle, Bill, at West Branch. Adam Walstrom is currently an assistant coach at Hollidaysburg under DeLattre.

“It’s absolutely crazy the number,” said Vroman, who is now in his 15th year as Philipsburg’s head coach. “I don’t know what it is. There are a lot of wins put up by those people. The fact that a school the size of Moshannon Valley has put up that many is definitely an accomplishment. It says a lot for Coach Camberg.”

As for DeLattre, the 1992 graduate was a volunteer assistant under Camberg in 1996. After that season, he went on to be an assistant coach at Glendale for three seasons before moving to Corry. DeLattre spent two seasons as an assistant at Corry before becoming the head coach from 2002-12. His first season in Hollidaysburg was 2013.

“I think it’s the love of football instilled in us at a young age,” DeLattre said. “I think football was a high priority in all of our families’ lives. It was a priority at Mo Valley. There were always high expectations at Mo Valley. I think we all continued to have high expectations as we all went through.”

After graduating from college, Keith had stops in junior high football at both Mo Valley and Philipsburg before coming back to be assistant under Camberg in 2002. He then had a stop as an assistant and a head coach at Glendale before returning to his alma mater in 2012 as head coach.

“I really think Coach Camberg has a lot to do with that,” said Keith of all the players that became coaches. “He had such a winning tradition that you had such a good time playing Moshannon Valley football. I think as you go on in life and you get done playing, you want to keep with that because you had such a good time doing it.”

United in 1996

Four of the five coaches were connected for the Black Knights’ best season they’ve ever enjoyed when Mo Valley reached the PIAA Class A western final in 1996. Mo Valley was 13-0 before facing Farrell in the state semifinals (the Knights lost 14 -10).

Vroman and DeLattre were assistants under Camberg that season. Keith was a senior standout, rushing for nearly 2,000 yards.

“Everybody asks me how much pressure there was that season, but there’s no pressure in a season like that,” Camberg said. “All you do is work hard, prepare the kids and let them play their game. We had a great time making it to the state semifinals. A few more points, and we’re playing in the state championship.”

“It was a blur,” Vroman said. “You win one, and you move on. Now when you look back on it, it was just a huge accomplishment for that football team. But at the time, it was a huge blur. It was the best football experience I’ve ever had as a player or coach.

“You didn’t get caught up in it because you didn’t have time. I’m sure the players and the parents enjoyed it a little more because they had more time to soak it in. We didn’t have time to soak it in until that season was over to truly realize how special things were. I’m sure that group of players talk about it like it was yesterday.”

Many Camberg-led teams were very run-heavy, and Keith especially proved to be a workhorse.

“That year, I had an assistant coach tap me on the shoulder and said, ‘Coach, do you realize you’ve ran the same play 12 plays in a row from the same formation?’ And I said, ‘No, it’s 13,’ Camberg said. “And Michael carried the ball 13 consecutive times.”

When Keith became head coach at Mo Valley, he had a chance to bring Camberg back on his staff as an assistant for a couple of years. Camberg decided to take the year off when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, and he hasn’t coached since.

“He’s one of the most knowledgeable guys I know about football,” Keith said. “He had been out of it for more than a couple of years. Anything he had to say, you listened to him. You always did, but bringing him back was awesome.”

Legacy continues

The legacy the four coaches have created doesn’t seem to be ending anytime soon, either.

Janocko’s son, Andrew, who attended Moshannon Valley in elementary school before moving to Clearfield, is rising through the NFL ranks and is now a quarterbacks coach in the NFL with the Chicago Bears. He also spent time with the Minnesota Vikings and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“It’s very gratifying,” Tim Janocko said of his son’s NFL journey. “He’s definitely carrying on the family tradition.”

DeLattre has two sons — Caden, a junior, and Cole, a freshman — playing for him this season at Hollidaysburg. He said he would not be surprised if they follow in their father’s footsteps someday.

“Cole definitely has aspirations of being a coach,” DeLattre said. “He talks about being at the high school level and maybe even at the college level someday. We had our youth clinic (Monday) and he was talking about how much he enjoyed coaching the little guys. I definitely see him staying involved in it.”

Keith has his brother, Jimmy, on his staff at Mo Valley.

“With me being the head coach, I can always count on Jimmy telling me when I’m doing something stupid. A lot of times coaches won’t do that,” Keith said. “They don’t want to cause waves. It makes it nice because he tells me what he thinks.”

Camberg considers himself part of the fraternity and deflects the credit.

“The heritage of this area, people like to excel in their own way,” he said. “I was very lucky to have the opportunity to coach so many great kids.”

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