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THE MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN: Redbank Valley Offensive Coordinator Jason Kundick Has Been a Wizard … and Wants to Stay an Anonymous One

NEW BETHLEHEM, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Jason Kundick is content to operate in the shadows.

He does his best work there behind the curtain. Pulling levers. Spinning knobs. No attention. No praise. Just allowed to whip up his inventive and dangerous attacks as the offensive coordinator for the Redbank Valley football team.

Permitted to be the Wizard.

(Pictured above, Redbank Valley offensive coordinator Jason Kundick, center, poses with his wife, Rachel, son, Jacob, and daughters, Mackenzie and Penellope after the PIAA Class A semifinal win in 2021/submitted photo)

Kundick cringes whenever he sees his name in print or online — and Bulldog head football coach Blane Gold often lauds the work of his right-hand man.

“I don’t like the recognition,” Kundick said. “I tried to tell (Gold), but he’s been name-dropping me a lot lately. I keep saying, ‘Stop it.’”

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Gold can’t help but rave about Kundick, who has been devising offenses and game plans for Redbank Valley during a decade of success.

Last week may have been his shining achievement. With three quarterbacks out because of injury (starter Braylon Wagner, backup Jaxon Huffman and emergency QB Owen Clouse), Kundick went to work whipping up game plan on the fly.

He picked senior Mason Clouse, the single-season receiving yardage and touchdown record-holder of all people, to run it.

And it worked.

The offensive line dominated. The running game shined. And Mason Clouse did just enough with his arm to lead the Bulldogs to a convincing 46-13 win over Coudersport in the District 9 Class A semifinals to set up a clash with defending champ Port Allegany for the title at Brockway’s Frank Varischetti Field on Friday night.

“It was fun, but believe me when I tell you it was nerve wracking because it was like, ‘Is it going to work?,’” Kundick said. “You lose a player like Braylon and you’re wondering every day all week in practice if he’s going to be able to go. It was fun, but it was time consuming. I might have been more nervous for last week’s game that I’ve been in a while. If it doesn’t work, what do you do now?”

Luckily for Kundick and Redbank Valley, that worry quickly evaporated.

Now this week against Port Allegany, the Bulldogs are expected to be back at full strength.

That’s a sigh of relief for Kundick.

Now he can go back to his comfort zone.

His wheelhouse has been running the offense since his head coaching stint at Clarion-Limestone ended after two years and two wins in 2011.

He went back to Redbank as the offensive coordinator under Ed Wasilowski and stayed on when Gold took over in 2019.

Gold has come to rely on Kundick a great deal, giving him complete control of the offense. That allows Gold to handle the defense and the other aspects of being a head coach.

“As much as I love coaching, if Jason ever told me that, whether it’s because of a work commitment or because of a family commitment, that he couldn’t do it anymore, I honestly don’t know if I would keep doing it,” Gold said. “I don’t know if I could do it at the level of success without Jason, and it’s not just because of the work ethic and the preparation and his offensive mind, but it’s the fact that I trust him completely.”

Kundick has been able to make his hectic schedule work.

He works for SCI Forest in Marienville and has received several promotions over the years that could have forced him from the sideline and the booth.

But his bosses at the correctional facility have worked with Kundick, shuffling his schedule, so he can still coach.

“They didn’t have to let me do it, but they have,” Kundick said. “My bosses have been great.”

It’s a good thing. Gold trusts Kundick so implicitly that he doesn’t even watch the other team’s defensive film.

Instead he focuses on how to slow down the opposing offense each week.

There was only one time when Gold overruled a play call from Kundick.

And it backfired spectacularly.

“It was the 2021 district championship game and we just got the ball down to the 1,” Gold said. “He wanted to call a pass play to Chris Marshall and I’m like, ‘We’re first-and-goal from the 1. Run the ball.’ We fumbled the snap and Union/A-C Valley recovered. That was the first thing that kind of started their comeback (from down 21-0 in an eventual 28-21 win by Redbank).”

“That’s funny. I don’t remember that,” Kundick said, laughing. “So I’ll take his word for it.”

Then, Kundick recalled that sequence.

“Oh, yeah. I wanted to throw a fade to Marshall and he’s screaming in the headset, ‘Run it! Run it! Run it!’ We fumbled,” Kundick said, chuckling.

“It works well between us. I don’t want to pretend to interfere with the defensive play calls or the defensive practices and game plans, unless him or any of the defensive coaches come and say, ‘Hey, what would you do here?’

“It’s the same thing with me,” Kundick added. “He lets me game plan for the week. He calls me the head coach of the offense. Titles don’t mean anything. We have a good working relationship.”

Gold said Kundick has resisted being named associated head coach in the past.

He likes his job just fine the way it is.

Being able to do his offensive alchemy behind the scenes.

And putting the reason for the success where he thinks it belongs: with the players.

“I give all the credit to the kids,” Kundick said. “I don’t want to see my name. I don’t want to hear it. Because ultimately it comes down to the players.”

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