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Experienced Group: Central Clarion Football Team’s Coaches Room is Packed With Knowledge

CLARION, Pa. (EYT/D9) — They’ve been head coaches, coordinators, gurus of their position groups.

They’ve come from Clarion-Limestone, Clarion, Union and even from Ohio.

They’ve gathered at Central Clarion, forming one of the most experienced coaching staffs in the area.

(Above, back row, from left: Dave Louder, Mike Hindman and Doug Knepp; Front row, from left: Kevin Slike, Mike Ferguson, Dave Eggleton and Cam Kirkland/photo by Kirland Photography)

“We put in a lot of time together and that’s the part that goes unseen,” said Central Clarion head coach Dave Eggleton. “I’m sure that happens everywhere, but our guys are all super committed. They’re watching film all weekend — we either meet on Saturday or Sunday afternoon and try to come up with the initial game plan, and it gets tweaked throughout the week. I love (assistant coach Cam Kirkland) on offense coming in and saying, ‘Hey, did you see this play? Watch play number whatever. Look at what the safety did when they went in motion.’ It’s that back-and-forth with having such a great staff that really can help you find the little advantages out there, that one play that you need.”

Eggleton took over as the head coach at Central Clarion last season when Larry Wiser retired. Eggleton was the head coach at Clarion-Limestone when the Lions joined a co-op with Clarion and North Clarion three years ago to form the Wildcats.

Eggleton brought Doug Knepp with him from Clarion-Limestone to Central Clarion.

Knepp’s road to Western Pennsylvania is a winding one.

Clarion Area and Clarion-Limestone High School sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Redbank Chevrolet and DuBrook.


He played high school football at Akron Springfield in Ohio. He didn’t go far to suit up in college, playing defensive end for the University of Akron from 1984 through 1987.

After he graduated from Akron, he spent one year as a high school coach in Ohio before getting a graduate assistant position at the University of Toledo. After two years there, he moved on to Defiance College under coach Malen Luke.

When Luke left Ohio to come to Clarion University in 1994, Knepp followed.

He later spent several years out of coaching, teaching at Clarion Area and then at Keystone junior high before landing at Clarion-Limestone and a coaching gig with Eggleton.

Knepp has found a home as an offensive and defensive line coach for Central Clarion.

“It’s fun to be in that coach’s room,” Knepp said. “It’s fun to gameplan and talk about what we want to do, where we put our athletes to be in a good position to be successful. You know, you spend so much time with those guys, it’s good to get along with them. Everybody brings some good football IQ to the table.”

Eggleton said he’s grateful to have someone like Knepp, who has so much experience.

“Doug has been my line coach from back when we were at C-L together,” Eggleton said. “Just a phenomenal coach. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the staff.”

Dave Louder is another assistant coach at Central Clarion who has been around the block a few times.

Louder, now the defensive coordinator for the Wildcats and in his 24th year overall of coaching, was an assistant at Union High School until ascending to the head coaching job there through tragedy when Al Pryor died suddenly in September of 2010.

“I was put in a very tough spot,” Louder said. “That truly was one of the biggest impacts on my life when 38 kids on a single-A varsity team are looking to me and they don’t want anyone else.”

Louder took on the responsibility of a team in mourning. After losing three straight after Pryor’s death, the Golden Knights closed that season string. The next two seasons, his Union teams went 7-4 and 9-2.

He joined the Central Clarion staff in the first year of the co-op after a year away from the game.

“We do have a great, experienced staff, many who have grown up in the (former longtime C-L head football coach) Clyde Conti offense and the defensive strategies of Larry Wiser,” Louder said. “Davey (Eggleton) has coached with Larry and was coached by Clyde Conti. He got to coach my kids (at C-L). Davey and I developed a bond pretty quick that was pretty neat. Those room sessions are fantastic.”

Eggleton calls the offensive plays for Central Clarion, but Cam Kirkland is his right-hand man.

“He’s kind of like my assistant offensive coordinator,” Eggleton said. “He runs our JV offense, so he does a lot of teaching with the younger kids as they build. He’s just super beneficial to us.

“He was with Coach Wiser’s staff when we combined three years ago and he remained here.”

Mike Ferguson is the quarterbacks coach. His son, Jase, is a sophomore entering his second season as the starting quarterback.

He also has a great deal of experience.

Ferguson was the one who helped encourage Eggleton to go for the head coaching job at Clarion-Limestone, where Eggleton spent six years leading that program until the consolidation.

“Mike has coached with me for years, back to my first year at C-L,” Eggleton said. “Actually whenever I applied at C-L, he was one of the guys who talked to me and said, ‘Hey, let’s do it. I’m on board.’ With his support, and a few other guys along the way, that’s what made me decide to go ahead and apply for and take the job.”

Mike Hindman has begun his coaching climb.

Last year, he was a volunteer coach at the junior high level.

This year he’s a paid assistant on the varsity staff.

“This year he wanted to get a little more involved and we decided we were going to make him a junior high paid coach and then some things changed with the staff,” Eggleton said. “We decided to bring him up, just to give us an extra O-line and D-line coach to help Doug out. We have a healthy number of linemen this year and a lot of young linemen, so we felt that that was the right fit. Mike played in high school and had a good high school career and then coached a little bit at the youth level and now is getting the work with Doug. I think he’s really picked up a lot of good experience and is learning a lot and helping our younger kids a lot.”

What makes this group work so well together is simple.

“We just have an excitement and a love for the game,” Louder said. “It’s very open. I tell you what, we probably agree on 90 to 95% of almost every decision. We concentrate a lot more on how to get the kids to buy in and develop. We want the best for each kid because we all know what football has meant in our lives.”

Clarion Area and Clarion-Limestone High School sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Redbank Chevrolet and DuBrook.