Bagnall has restored pride at Susquehanna


BY JOBY FAWCETT, Times-Shamrock Writer

Pride is just something you can’t measure.

It can be challenged at every turn, and often is in football.

How a player reacts when faced with an attack on one’s pride can often mean the difference in wins and losses.

How a coach responds is an entirely different story.

Dick Bagnall is proof of what can be accomplished when protecting pride.

In 2004, Bagnall had been in retirement, going to Susquehanna Sabers football games, enjoying them from outside the rigors of the daily grind.

There were no more long days at practice. No more nights of film study. And no more hours away from his family.

Look, he earned a rest.

In 21 years, he built Susquehanna’s program. He won 135 games and grabbed the crown jewel of the Suburban Conference by winning the District 2-12 Class A championship final overLakelandin 1994.

And repeated again in 1995.

After his departure, however, the Sabers fell on hard times. Interest began to wane, losses mounted and the administration put the program on life support.

His pride couldn’t let everything he had built just get tossed to the side.

So, in the most dire days of a 26-game losing streak, Bagnall came back after three games had already gone by the wayside in 2004.

His goal, simply to get the program back to being competitive.

He’s done so much more.

Blue Ridgecame aboard to co-sponsor the program and the infusion of talent boosted interest.

After agonizing through seven more losses, most of them lopsided, Bagnall turned things around in 2005, winning four games.

A small step for most programs, a giant leap for Susquehanna.

There have been ups and downs still, but what Bagnall has done at Susquehanna during his stay is a truly remarkable measure of a man who has an incredible amount of pride in the blue and white.

In the last three years, even with a roster number hovering between 25 and 35 players, Bagnall has seen his program become not only competitive, but relevant again.

His dedication to the deceptive veer-option offense frustrates opponents. His linemen have dedicated themselves to becoming bigger and stronger. His defensive players are more aggressive.

Last season, Susquehanna celebrated a Lackawanna Football Conference Division III title and a 9-2 season. A level of success many thought to be unattainable.

Not Bagnall.

And many thought, with a big senior class graduating last year, that it would be his last stand. His one final bow before the curtain dropped.

But Bagnall returned.

Pride forced him back to the sideline.

Tonight, he leads his Sabers into their yearly clash with Montrose, their bitter rival.

Susquehanna sports a 4-2 record and is challenging for a return trip to the District 2 Class AA playoffs.

His team has won 19 games in the last three years, and Bagnall deserves a lot more credit than he will ever accept or receive.

In the grand scheme of things, Bagnall is truly one of the finest coaches this conference has ever seen. And maybe nobody outside ofSusquehannaCountyappreciates his contribution to the sport, but they should.

Whenever Bagnall decides to walk away, he will have done it his way.

With determination and an attention to detail.

And with a great deal of pride.