Union/A-C Valley's Dittman recognized
Prior to the high school football season, Union/A-C Valley head coach Brad Dittman let his players know he believed they could be the team that got the program over the hump.
The Falcon Knights had qualified for the District 9 Class A playoffs three straight years, 2018-20, only to fall in their first postseason game each time.
“I wanted the team to have confidence,” Dittman said of revealing his expectations to the team. “We only had six seniors on the team, but knew they would be good leaders for us and we had some talented juniors and sophomores who we knew had a lot to offer.
“We just needed to put some pieces together.”
And the Falcon Knights did, going 7-2 in the regular season and earning playoff wins over Cameron County (31-6) and Smethport (14-8). The team's run was ended only when Union/A-C Valley ran into Redbank Valley in the district championship game Nov. 19. The game was tied at 21 in the fourth quarter before the Bulldogs pulled out a 28-21 victory.
His team's 9-3 season earned for Dittman Coach of the Year accolades in the District 9 League Small School-South Division. The recipient of the honor is voted on by the league's head coaches.
Redbank, who will play in the state title game Thursday in Hershey, is a league opponent of the Falcon Knights.
“I think the other coaches in the league recognized the work we put in,” said Dittman, who was assisted by Dan Reed, Ray Fox, Chris McNany, Kline Terwilliger, Greg Wolbert, Bob Bowser and Bryn Chalmers. “This honor is a reflection of our players and coaches.”
Dittman was head coach of A-C Valley for four years 2012-15. The Falcons began the co-op with Union in 2016 and Dittman took the reins of the combined program in 2018.
The team's offense, which operated mostly out of the Pistol formation, became more balanced as the season progressed.
Mikey Card and Dawson Camper combined for over 1,500 yards on the ground while Bailey Crissman and Brody Dittman passed for 1,250 yards.
“At first, the passing game wasn't where we wanted it to be,” Brad Dittman said, “but we made good strides. We worked on getting the ball out quick to our playmakers.”
On the other side of the ball, the Falcon Knights were led by linebacker and league defensive MVP Carter Terwint.
“We just had a bunch of tough, physical kids,” said Dittman. “We were disciplined on defense and wanted to be able to play fast. That led to us causing a lot of turnovers.”
Card, a 5-foot-8, 180-pound junior, is the type of player a team with small numbers needs to have to reach its goals. Aside from his production in the running game, he excelled as an undersized defensive lineman, totaling 56 tackles and 11 for a loss.
“He epitomizes what we want to be about, tough and physical,” said Dittman. “I've said it many times: Mikey Card is as tough as they come and he has a motor that just doesn't quit.”