High school notebook: Keener learning on job as South Fayette AD
When Mark Keener officially took office July 1 as South Fayette’s athletic director, he was not alone in preparing his athletic programs for the start of the 2014-14 school year.
Keener, a 35-year-old eighth grade math teacher and assistant basketball coach, had one of the most well-respected athletic directors in the WPIAL in his ear – Joe Farkas, the man Keener replaced.
Like Keener, Farkas began his career as a teacher and coach before serving as South Fayette’s athletic director. He held the post for 28 years and was the Lions’ boys varsity basketball coach for 18 years. Farkas will not be easy to replace as the school’s athletic achievements during his tenure included two WPIAL championships in football, one in baseball, four in golf and multiple winners in wrestling.
The school’s football program sent Farkas out on a high note by winning its first state championship last December with a 41-0 win over Imhotep Charter of Philadelphia.
Keener, a Waynesburg University graduate, is thrilled to oversee the school’s successful programs after being named Farkas’ replacement March 14.
“There’s no other place I’d want to be the athletic director,” Keener said. “I know what kind of coaches we have. They are some of the best in the WPIAL. That’s part of my decision making and I have a great support system here.”
That support cast is led by Farkas, who meets with Keener once a week to discuss scheduling, seminars held for incoming seniors to prepare for college recruitment and how to move the program into the digital age with expanded scheduling available online and a South Fayette Athletics account on Twitter.
Keener is also gathering notes on how to work hand-and-hand with the district’s youth programs. Farkas was pivotal in building the South Fayette Little Hooper basketball program at the elementary school level. Keener has children, ages six and eight, so he’ll get his fair share of exposure to the youth programs in the area and plans on making the high school’s relationship ith youth organizations a priority.
Working as the longtime AD’s assistant for the past six years certainly doesn’t hurt.
“He made it look so easy and it’s really not,” Keener said. “He did it for so long and did such a great job. It’s effortless for him. It tells you how good he was at his job.”
South Fayette quarterback Brett Brumbaugh, who has scholarship offers from Akron, Temple and Albany, will attend a camp at the University of Delaware later this month.
The Blue Hens are no stranger to strong-armed, pocket passing quarterbacks. Delaware resurrected the college career of Joe Flacco, who transferred from Pitt after two years. Flacco led the Blue Hens to the FCS title game and went on to win a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens.
Despite setting the WPIAL single-season passing record and winning a state title, Brumbaugh, who fits the mold of Flacco but is two inches shorter, is receiving mild interest because of his inability to scramble from the pocket.
McGuffey senior lineman Ryan Stienstraw visited James Madison over the weekend. Stienstraw is receiving significant Division I interest after a breakout season in 2013.
Peters Township graduate Josie Beaumariage, who was a key member of the Indians’ 1,600-meter relay team that qualified for the WPIAL Championships this spring, has committed to Capital University’s track and cross country programs.
Capital, which is located in Columbus, Ohio, and competes in NCAA Division III, is a member of the Ohio Athletic Conference. The Crusaders’ cross country team placed ninth at the conference championships last fall, and the women’s outdoor track team placed eighth at the conference meet.
Beaumariage was a four-year letter winner and two-year captain of the track and field team at Peters Township, where she also was an honor roll student.