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Moon High School didn’t have to search far for a new head football coach when Brendan Hathaway resigned last April.
Athletic director Ron Ledbetter stayed in-house, tabbing Ryan Linn, the team’s offensive coordinator the past two seasons, head coach in late May. Linn called it his “dream job” after the decision was approved by the school board.
Prior to joining the Moon coaching staff, Linn served as the offensive coordinator at Freedom for three seasons and a position coach for one year under Bob Palko at West Allegheny.
Linn makes his head coaching debut Friday when the Tigers open the season at home against Ambridge, and his familiarity with the program and players has made the transition from coordinator to coach relatively seamless.
“You can’t put any type of value on it,” Linn said. “Having the ability to know the kids, know what they’re capable of, know where to put them so they’ll be successful—you know a first year coach coming in to most situations doesn’t know.”
“It takes him a couple months, and even in the summer you don’t know what you have until you get the pads on.”
Retaining the coaching staff accelerated the team’s offseason workouts and allowed Linn to focus on identifying ways to schematically improve the Tigers.
“We’ve had these conversations pretty much all summer—how far ahead we are, what we can put in and how we can scale back because of what the kids already know, which is helpful,” Linn said.
Linn will remain the team’s offensive coordinator and continue to work closely with the quarterbacks.
The Tigers went 3-6 last year but return six starters on each side of the ball, including senior quarterback Cole Konieczka. As a junior, Konieczka threw for 1,100 yards and eight touchdowns. Linn believes the “sky is the limit” for Moon’s signal caller.
Throughout the preseason, Linn and his staff has pushed the players to leave their legacy on the program, using former playoff teams listed on the stadium’s concession stand as motivation. Moon missed the postseason in 2016 and hasn’t won a playoff game since 2007.
“Right now our expectation is to get better each week, and ultimately, get to the playoffs and see what can happen,” Linn said.
Linn played baseball in college and is also the head softball coach at Moon. He guided the Tigers to the WPIAL Class 5A title game in May and a PIAA playoff appearance. In addition to his coaching duties, he teaches health and physical education at the district’s middle school.
During the hiring process, Linn reached out to former colleague Brian Cornell at West Allegheny for advice on how to balance multiple coaching duties.
“I asked him how do you do it?” Linn said. “He [Cornell] said you have to have great assistants, and I have six guys in here who are willing to do anything that the kids need or we need for the program.”
Linn added his softball assistants will instruct the team during the fall season, and he’ll “cross that bridge once he gets there” in the spring when juggling the softball team’s games and the football team’s weightlifting schedule. One thing is for sure: don’t expect his coaching philosophy to change.
“You have to hold the kids accountable,” Linn asserted. “You set an expectation for them, and you coach them up—you get on them, you love them up after the fact, and talk to them why you did it.”
“Realistically, I try to keep it the same mentality between the girls and boys.”