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Former Clarion-Limestone Head Football Coach, Current C-L Baseball Coach Todd Smith Takes Over Keystone Football Program

CLARION, Pa. (EYT/D9) — He’s coached basketball. He’s currently coaching baseball. He’s been a head football coach and an offensive coordinator.

For 30 years, Smith has dabbled in just about everything.

“I love to coach,” Smith said. “I love to work with kids.

He chuckles as he continues, “I’ve kind of been around a little bit.”

The longtime Clarion resident has added another line to his extensive sports resume: Keystone High School head football coach.

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Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.

Smith was hired last month to take over the Panthers’ football program. Ryan Smith resigned in January after a successful four-year stint at the school.

“I wanted to be a head coach again,” said Todd Smith, who was at the helm of the Clarion-Limestone program from 2003 to 2009. “I didn’t really expect this opportunity to come about. Ryan played for me in high school — football and basketball — and he started out coaching with me when I was the head coach at C-L. I’m very proud of Ryan. He and I are very close. To be quite honest, I love him.”

The two talked at length after Ryan Smith’s resignation. Todd Smith said he wanted to make sure the relationship wouldn’t be hurt if he applied for the vacant position at Keystone.

Ryan Smith gave him his full support.

The opportunity was a perfect one for Todd Smith, who had spent the past two seasons as the offensive coordinator at Butler with another coaching prodigy of his, Eric Christy.

“He’s one of my best friends,” Smith said of Christy, who also began his coaching career on Smith’s staff at C-L. “We had always talked about someday us coaching together again, and I had the chance to go down there and coach with him. It was kind of a bucket-list thing.”

As Butler’s offensive coordinator, Smith helped spark a turnaround for the Golden Tornado in their move from the WPIAL to District 10.

Butler made the playoffs for the first time since 2012 and posted its first winning season since 1997 this year.

His no-huddle offense flourished. The Golden Tornado piled up 1,908 rushing yards, 1,898 passing yards and 30 points per game in 2021. Butler went 5-4 in the regular season before falling to McDowell in the District 10 Class 6A championship game.

Smith has earned his reputation as an offensive guru.

“That’s a pretty good word for him,” Christy said. “He has a great feel for the game. He loves to game plan. That’s his favorite thing in the whole world — putting the time in, figuring out what’s going to work against defenses and fronts. He’s truly good at playing the chess game in football and having a vision of what it should look like.”

Christy said Smith was a huge mentor for him.

“Everything I got about coaching came from him,” Christy said. “Everything I learned, how to approach a game and plan plan, came from him.”

It was bittersweet for Smith to leave Butler for the coaching opportunity at Keystone, but it made sense for him.

He commuted from Clarion to Butler every day — a 100-mile, round-trip journey.

“One of the first things he said is, ‘Hey, when it comes down to it, at some point, when the opportunity comes to be a head coach, I’m going to take it,’” Christy said. “He never disguised that. He never hid it.

“I told him as a friend I was so happy for him and hugged him and high-fived him,” Christy added. “But as his boss, I was really mad at him that he wasn’t sticking around. The opportunity is just fantastic for him. I wish we could do this together forever, but Keystone is so lucky to have him.”

Smith is still coaching the Clarion-Limestone baseball team this spring, but will step down from that position at the end of the season. The Lions’ baseball team has won back-to-back Keystone Shortway Athletic Conference championships and have advanced to the District 9 semifinals for the past three seasons. They have a wealth of talent again this season.

Smith also had two stints as a boys basketball coach, first as C-L and then at Clarion Area.

He’s coached football at several stops.

After his head coaching stint at C-L, he was the offensive coordinator at Clarion for five years under Larry Wiser. During that stretch, the Bobcats won five straight KSAC titles and a district crown.

In 2015, he coached the fullbacks at Clarion University during its 8-3 campaign, and from 2016-2018 was the offensive coordinator at C-L.

Smith credits his love of coaching to Clyde Conti, the longtime Clarion-Limestone football coach who also had a stint at Slippery Rock High.

“(His) impact was substantial,” Smith said of Conti. “I played for Clyde Conti and then coached with him for 10 years before he went to Slippery Rock. He had a big impact on my life, and (he’s) a lot of the reason why I wanted to coach.”

Smith, who has spent 26 years teaching mathematics at Clarion-Limestone, is excited for the next chapter of his coaching career at Keystone.

“We’re gonna start getting together some Saturdays in April and May,” Smith said. “I’m going to run the offense we were running at Butler — we’re a no-huddle — and I think the kids are excited about that. They were asking me a lot of questions. Most of the kids play spring sports, so it’s hard to get together, plus I’m coaching baseball. We’re going to try to get together so we’re not starting this summer at square one.”

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Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.