2023 Post-Season interview with head coach and OC Ty Harper CSP (NY)


Well-known member
Ty Harper


Position: Head Coach/OC

What were your main concerns entering the 2022 season?
Our league is always tough, and in 2022, I’d say the top of the league was as good as it’s been in quite a while. That said, entering 2022, we were optimistic about our potential. We had a great mix of returning players and talented young players promoted from the JVs. I was concerned about how many new starters we were putting on the field. We started six sophomores and a handful of juniors and seniors who had never started in a varsity game before. You never really know how it’s going to play out until you see it live in a game. All things considered, they did a great job.

What player or players stood out after all practices leading up to opening night were completed?
It was evident coming out of camp that we had a really good, competitive group of skill players. We had three experienced backups in Trent Burchanowski, Austin White, and Gabe Roth, and I thought we could lean on them until some of our younger guys got acclimated. Bryce Hinsdale, even though he was only a sophomore, was a returning All-State player, and I felt like he would have a big year. Defensively, Lucas Lisciandro was a player with whom we had a lot of confidence. Looking back, he’s as good a leader as we’ve ever had. I knew he would help our less experienced guys, too. Taite Newman was another senior captain who had a good camp and became the leader of our young offensive line.

I know you guys faced a lot of good players in 2022, but if you had to pick the best, who was it, and which team did he play for? Also, what made this player so special?
Randolph is running behind Xander Hind. He was a two-time finalist for the Connolly Cup, which is like the Western New York high school Heisman. I’ve coached against some great running backs, and he was the best one I’ve seen so far. He was strong enough to run linebackers over in the hole and then fast enough to run away from defensive backs in the open field. That’s a pretty special combination at any level.

Which team in 2022 was the toughest to prepare for? Why?
We respect everyone in our league; they all bring challenges in terms of preparation. Our opponents at the top of the league—Randolph, FE, and Portville—were all very good this year, especially on the defensive side of the ball. From a pure talent standpoint, Randolph was pretty much everywhere. Usually, there are holes in a defense that you’re looking to attack, mismatches that you can exploit. Randolph had a big, physical defensive line and good linebackers that ran and tackled well. When you can’t run the ball effectively, it makes game planning a lot more difficult, and Randolph made running the ball extremely tough for us.

What were the high and low points of the season?
The highest point was probably our Week 7 win against FE. They have a great program, and any time we play them, it’s an absolute battle. We had a lot of kids and coaches that were sick or banged up, but I was so proud of the grit we played with. We ended up winning, 22-20, on a field goal with no time remaining on the clock. One of the officials told me after the game that it was the best game he'd ever worked on. Another high point was winning our quarterfinal playoff game against Wilson. When you have a young team, having some playoff success is essential for building confidence. The low point, I’d say, was our homecoming loss to Portville. I didn’t do a good enough job of keeping our guys focused, and we got outplayed. We also honored our retiring Panama superintendent, Bert Lictus, before that game, and I wanted to win for him as well. It was a disappointing weekend. Additionally, we had three seniors go down with season-ending injuries at various points of the fall. Any time that happens, especially when it’s a senior, I feel terrible for the kid.

What was your top goal for the 2022 team, and did they meet that goal?
I’ve always been a big believer in setting the bar high, so our goal each season is to win a state championship. We obviously fell short of that. Another goal that we set each season is to improve as a team from start to finish. In that sense, I’d say we were successful. We finished with seven wins, and for a young team that had two senior captains sustain season-ending injuries (White and Lisciandro), that’s pretty solid. We can definitely build on this season.

What did you learn most from last season that you will use to be a better coach in 2023?
There’s always more to learn, and that’s one of my favorite things about coaching football. The past two seasons have really reinforced the value of patience. Our offensive and defensive lines were young and very inexperienced, but they improved throughout the season. I also had to be patient with our sophomore quarterback, Tate Catanese. Despite a couple of frustrating games, he was named to the All-State second team. As a coach, you have to be able to live with a young, talented kid who is learning through mistakes, and I think he's just scratching the surface of what he’s going to be able to do.
From a philosophical standpoint, last season also illustrated the importance of being balanced on offense. We struggled to run the ball against the best teams, and we have to get better in that area this fall. Some of that is scheme, but a lot of it depends on getting in the weight room in the off-season and being physically stronger on the field.

What will you remember most about the 2023 class?
I absolutely loved this group of seniors. They were more than good players; they were great teammates. They cared about one another and were genuinely good people. To me, that’s the most important thing. We want to win championships and be an elite program, but we also want to cultivate responsible and accountable human beings. Our class of 2023 has a lot to be proud of.

Can you tell us which seniors from last season will be moving on to play college ball and list the colleges too?

Austin White has generated a lot of interest despite only playing in two games. I know that he’s visited Alfred University and enjoyed it, but he hasn’t made a decision yet. Gabe Roth and Trent Burchanowski are both going to play college baseball (Roth at St. John Fisher, Burchanowski at Penn State Behrend).