Fred Yanity is a link to Richland football past and present.
The long-time Rams assistant coach and athletic director typically prefers to remain in the background. But as special teams coordinator on this year’s 14-0 District 6 championship squad, Yanity inadvertently found himself fielding questions about a number of momentum-swaying, game-changing plays made by Richland’s special teams in a 38-12 victory over District 10 champion Hickory on Saturday.
“These guys deserve all the accolades,” Yanity said, deflecting credit for his role in an effort that pushed Richland into the PIAA Class AA semifinal against undefeated WPIAL powerhouse Aliquippa on Friday at North Allegheny High School. “This is their time. If people knew how hard they’ve worked to get here.
“I have great kids on special teams,” added Yanity, a former Rams head football coach from 1984 to 1992. “The kids want to be on special teams. They enjoy it. We work hard on it. That sets us apart. We put in a lot of time on special teams and it showed on Saturday (against Hickory).”
After chewing up nearly half of the first-quarter game clock on a 79-yard scoring march, the Rams used a bouncing kickoff by Bobby Colvin to create a turnover inside the Hickory 10-yard line. Richland scored four plays later to lead 13-0 before the Hornets offense even took the field.
“Last week, we knew we needed to steal a couple possessions to give us an opportunity to win,” Richland head coach Brandon Bailey said. “We were able to get the ball back inside their 10. We had a fake punt that put us inside their 10. We scored on a fake field goal that was called back on a penalty. We didn’t give up any big yardage on punt or kickoff returns. We had a field goal. You’ve got to give a lot of credit to our special teams.”
Meanwhile, the defense limited West Virginia recruit and 4,000-yard rusher DeShawn Coleman of Hickory to 85 yards and only one 45-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
Credit also goes to a staff that includes former Division I player Bailey, veteran varsity assistant coaches such as Yanity and Tim Koshute, as well as some of the top young coaches in the area, Tom Smith, Tim Regan, Eber Verhovsek, Larry McCracken and Ron Hobbs.
In his 11th season, Bailey years ago added Yanity to his staff – first as a freshman coach and later as special teams coordinator.
“He’s a guy that enjoys football and loves being around the game and being around the kids,” Bailey said. “He’s a positive person in kids’ lives. Guys who played for him in the 1980s and 1990s loved Fred. That’s one of the main reasons we wanted Fred involved in our program. It’s not just about X’s and O’s.”
The Rams went 7-4 in 1986 and posted a 7-3-1 mark the next year under Yanity, who had a 36-48-4 record as the team’s head coach. Yanity has been Richland’s athletic director for 19 years during multiple tenures. He’s in his 44th year at Richland as either a teacher, coach, AD or member of the board of directors.
Yanity knows about success on the field as a player. He was part of two Laura Lamar (now Homer-Center) teams that went 8-0-1 and 8-1 in 1962 and 1963, respectively. If not for a 7-7 tie with Windber, the 1962 team would have been unbeaten, untied and unscored upon.
As a coach, his 1986 Richland squad was 6-AA runner-up to United, and in 1987 the Rams were the Mountain Conference title game runner-up to Bishop Guilfoyle.
“We’ve never done this at Richland before,” said Yanity of a school-record 14 wins as well as a district championship and state semifinal appearance. “We’ve obviously had great teams through the years. Back in the late 1950s, we had teams that won 33 straight games. When I was head coach, we were lucky enough to be in the district playoffs twice and made it to the championship game once. The 1971 team was undefeated.
“But this team has gone where no other team has gone,” he added. “These kids have been working hard for two or three years, and it’s really paying off. I’m proud of this team, and I think they rank up there as one of the top teams in Richland history.”