Hahn, who has been an assistant for four years, was named head coach of the varsity Indians in July. He’ll be the third head coach in three seasons and replaces Ed Webb, who led NHS only one year. Hahn came to Northumberland from Pennsylvania four years ago under then head coach John Poindexter. Poindexter took the Indians to an 8-4 record and a second-round playoff game in 2011. The wheels fell off last season when Northumberland went 0-5 in the district and 1-9 overall. They gave up 455 points.
Hahn, a graduate of Gannon University, is a special education teacher at NHS and is working on a master’s in administration.
“I try to keep everything positive,” he said. “I’m about making it fun for the kids and the fun should turn into wins.
“Last season was disappointing,” added Hahn. “We’re going to try and make this one better.”
Numbers are already better in Indian camp, where Hahn suits up about 70 players on the varsity and JV teams. Last season, Northumberland ended with about 30 players combined.
“We ran out of gear we had so many kids come out,” said Hahn. “That came as a surprise! I have seven or eight kids that haven’t played before but were just athletes that walk the halls here, and I recruited them.”
The Indians scrimmaged West Point in the preseason, then lost their opener, 30-14, to Surry last Friday night. They’ll travel to Northampton tomorrow night (September 6), then have a week off before their home opener against Mathews on September 20. Northumberland’s only win last season came over the Blue Devils, 37-33.
Hahn returns 11 players total, including five on offense.
Leading the pack is senior quarterback Wesley Jackson, who makes the move from running back to play caller. Jackson replaces graduated QBs Aaron Lewis and Zach Newman and will be backed up this season by sophomore Zak Kent.
Jackson will lead the Indians’ spread formation and is “very versatile and athletic enough” to throw off some defenses, said Hahn.
He’ll hand off to senior Clinton Carter, who also makes a shift in offensive positions from the offensive line to ball carrier. Backing up Carter will be junior Tyler Costley, sophomore Trevor Cantrell and junior Darryl Smith.
“Clinton begged me all summer to move to running back,” said Hahn, “and all through camp he’s worked hard. He’s a strong big boy and is one of our senior leaders.”
The Indians lost their top receiver in Kyle Elmore and instead have as Jackson’s targets junior Ameer Veney and sophomore James Weldon.
In the wide-out positions will be Kent and senior Tevin Carter.
Hahn’s most experienced offensive unit is the line, where junior Philip Harrison returns to snap. He’s surrounded by returning guards senior Dakota Galves and junior John Brown, and returning tackle senior Collin Donovan. Senior DaShaud Murphy will fill the other tackle spot. With the addition of 6’4” 230-pound Murphy, Hahn’s front five average a hefty 211 pounds.
“It seems like in the past we have been super skill heavy with no experience on the offensive line,” said Hahn. “This year the line guys have been around forever and the skill guys are new.”
Hahn’s defensive line is also an experienced unit. Brown returns as nose tackle with Murphy and Donovan back to fill the end spots.
In all, Hahn brings back six on defense with Cantrell and Carter as outside linebackers and Harrison and senior Aaron Curry on the inside. Cantrell and Carter got some playing time on the stopping unit last season while Curry is a first-year man but is “a strong and aggressive guy,” said Hahn.
Galves returns to man the middle. He was a second team all-district pick in that spot last year.
Adding speed in the secondary will be Veney and Costley in the cornerback spots and Jackson at safety.
“We’re fairly deep on offense and defense, but as far as experience and game time goes, that’s where our weakness will be,” said Hahn.
Brown comes back to kick field goals for the Indians.
Hahn has several speedsters still vying for the return jobs.
“If I can get some kids breaks [from playing too many positions], that’s my plan. I’ve got some kids that are super fast.”
COACH: Brian Hahn (1st year).
ASSISTANT COACHES: Dalton Keyser, Zach Kues, Charlie Thompson, Jacob Jewell, Chris Simmons.
LAST YEAR: 1-9 overall.
BASIC OFFENSE: Spread formation.
BASIC DEFENSE: 3-5.
TOP RETURNERS: QB Wesley Jackson, C Philip Harrison, RB Clinton Carter, G/K John Brown, OL/DL Collin Donovan, T DaShaud Murphy, S Wesley Jackson, LB Dakota Galves.
TOP NEWCOMERS: WR Ameer Veney, WR James Weldon, LB Aaron Curry.
POWER ANALYSIS: The Indians have nowhere to go but up after coming off a 1-9 campaign in 2012. Northumberland didn’t win a game against Northern Neck District opponents. However, first-year head coach Brian Hahn brings a positive attitude to his new role. An assistant at NHS for four years, Hahn has been there when the Indians had some success under coach John Poindexter. He wants to make this season fun for his players but also turn the program around. Northumberland didn’t get off to a great start in that direction with a 30-14 loss to Surry but the Indians will head to Northampton this week where they hope to pick up their first win.