When former head football coach of the Saucon Valley Panthers Matt Evancho stepped down for personal reasons after reaching the PIAA 3A semifinals in the 2015 season, Phil Sams was the obvious choice to replace him. Coach Sams jumped at the opportunity to become the 13th head football coach in Saucon Valley history. The other day Saucon Source caught up with Coach Sams on the practice field at a recent training session with his team. Check out what he had to say!
Q: For the past eight or nine years you have been coaching football and teaching Phys Ed. at Saucon Valley. Can you give us a little background info about yourself?
A: I was born in York, Pa., but was raised in Bethlehem and Macungie. My parents are Craig and Cindy Sams. I have three brothers (Scott, Matt and Tommy) and a sister (Sarah). My brother Tommy happens to be married to the Saucon Valley High School librarian (Amber Sams). Currently, I live in Coopersburg with my wife Lori and our three kids. My daughter, Delaney, will be nine years old next week. My other daughter, Finley, is four. Colton, my son, is seven years old. We are also expecting in November.
Q: Happy Birthday to Delaney and congratulations! But isn’t there another special day right around the corner?
A: Yes, this Saturday my wife Lori and I have our wedding anniversary. We will have been married 12 wonderful years.
Q: Congrats again! Can you tell us about your high school and college experiences?
A: I am a 1995 graduate of Emmaus High School, where I played football and baseball. After high school I went to West Virginia University, where I graduated in 1999.
Q: What did you do after finishing at West Virginia?
A: My first teaching and coaching job was at Washington and Lee High School in Montross, Va. I also spent a year teaching and coaching at West Lake High School in Waldorf, Md. Then, I spent some time at Palisades and Easton before settling in at Saucon. I have been at Saucon since 2007.
Q: What do you like best about teaching and coaching at Saucon Valley?
A: The students here. They make this a great place to teach and coach. They are very supportive of each other and respectful. I have also noticed an increase in school pride over the past eight or nine years. These students really enjoy going to each other’s events.
Q: As head coach you are following Matt Evancho, who had much success in his career. You were one of his key assistants for eight years. What are some things you learned from him?
A: Matt is a great leader and is extremely organized. I learned a lot of X’s and O’s from Coach Evancho and that is important. Also, in order to be a good head coach and have success like Matt, you need to know how to motivate your players. Many people do not realize how much work off the football field is required to be a good head football coach. Matt was great not only with football, but (with) all the other things associated with being a football coach. He is still helping me today and I talk with him regularly about the job.
Q: What are your fondest memories or highlights of last season’s historic run?
A: That is tough to call because there were so many great moments. Beating Bethlehem Catholic was awesome, but I think Alstan Wolfe’s winning touchdown catch against Notre Dame stands out because of everything that was on the line.
Q: What will you miss most about the seniors who just graduated?
A: That is another tough call. They were such a talented group. You do not get a class like that very often. They left a great impression on the underclassmen. Together, we will all work hard to continue the tradition they helped forge at Saucon Valley.
The Saucon Valley football program has not missed a beat since the change in leadership from Coach Evancho to Coach Sams. It has been business as usual with the weight room and other off-season preparations. If any Saucon Valley students in grades 8-12 are interested in playing football for the Panthers, you are encouraged to pay Coach Sams a visit and check out the training sessions. The football team is typically conditioning or weight training Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 9 to 11 a.m. Wednesday evenings the weight room is open from 5 to 7 p.m. Whatever you decide, be sure to register for your Fall sport at Saucon Valley before July 24, 2016!
Best of luck this upcoming season to Coach Sams and the Saucon Valley football team. The Source is with you!