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Coen Taps His Merchant Marine Coaching Background To Find Lehigh's Offensive Coordinator

Picture this.

You're Lehigh head coach Andy Coen.  Your offensive coordinator, Dave Cecchini, tells you he's taking over at another Division I program, Valparaiso.

Dave is not just any old coordinator - Cecchini identifies as a critical part of Lehigh's offensive success over the last few years.  Mentor of WR Ryan Spadola, WR Lee Kurfis, QB Chris Lum, QB Brandon Bialkowski, QB Mike Colvin.  Filling those shoes will not be easy.

What you do is give a call to some guys that you know, to find names, like the 35 year old head football coach at Kutztown, Drew Folmar.

Folmar and Coen both served as coaches at the Merchant Marine Academy at King's Point ten years apart, Coen as offensive coordinator in 1992, and Folmar as quarterbacks and receivers coach in 2002.  Andy put in a call to the folks there.

"The people at King's Point spoke volumes about him," Andy told me, "and then as he took over the offense at Kutztown I certainly noticed his success."

Andy never kept his eyes off of Drew's coaching career, and it's a big reason why he's now Lehigh's offensive coordinator today.

"I am happy to welcome Drew Folmar as our new quarterback coach and offensive coordinator," Coen said in Lehigh's official release. "I have no doubt that Drew will mesh well with our staff and continue to help our offense rank among the best in the FCS. Drew has proven himself to be an outstanding teacher of quarterback play, and this was critical to me as I went through the hiring process.  What I liked the most about Drew was that he views himself as a teacher. He will teach the fundamentals and he will develop his players into the best that they can be."

"Drew Folmar enters his second season as the head football coach at Kutztown University in 2014," Drew's bio on the Kutztown University football website says, showing that it was never Kutztown's intentions to see their first-year head coach leave the Golden Bears this quickly.

"Drew's a guy that I've known for quite a while," Coen told Keith Groller of the Morning Call.  "I followed what they've done at Kutztown, so he was a guy I definitely wanted to talk to about our opening.  What really impressed me about Drew is how passionate he was about quarterback play. He also jumped out as being a really good teacher, which is so important.  I heard a lot of good things about him from [former Kutztown head coach] Ray Monica and [former Millersville and Rhode Island coach] Joe Trainer."

Originally from Chambersburg, Drew seemed to be destined to be a football coach from childhood.

"I think he made up his first playbook when he was 8 or 9," his father Don Folmar, the athletic director at Chambersburg Area High school, told the local paper.  "We knew coaching was something he always wanted to do, and when you're in coaching you always aspire to be a head coach."

As a college football player, Drew was a four-year starter at Millersville, and is a member of the Millersville football hall of fame.  He knows something about championships and playoffs from experience: in 1998, the Marauders were PSAC East champions and in 1999 he guided Millersville to a first-round win over Shepard.

In his career he was a four-time All-PSAC East selection, three-time team MVP and two-year captain.  At Millersville, he - like Dave Cecchini at Lehigh - holds many of the Maurauder offensive records, including passing touchdowns in a season (31), a career (92), and career passing yardage (10,483), for starters.

After graduating, he worked at King's Point and his alma mater before becoming offensive coordinator at PSAC rival Kutztown in 2008, where he turned the Golden Bears' moribund offense into one of the top offensive units in Division II.

By 2012, Kutztown scored a school-record 490 points en route to a 7-4 record.  His teams that season eclipsed the 40 point barrier seven times, and the 50 point barrier five times.

When head coach Ray Monica moved on to Arkansas Tech, it was a natural at Kutztown to promote their promising young coordinator to the head spot:
Folmar was a huge part of KU’s offensive success, which arguably could be traced back to the outstanding performance of former Golden Bear QB Kevin Morton. Folmar was a crucial part of grooming Morton into the great quarterback KU saw him become, where his offense ranked at least 12th in scoring and 10th in total offense in the past two seasons alone. Obviously starting any new job—especially following up the best three years in a century of football carries with it some nervousness—but coach Folmar doesn’t show it. 
“To say the very least, I’m excited,” Folmar said about his new head-coaching gig. “I’m looking forward to working with a really great group of kids.”
Greg Bamberger, Kutztown's athletic director, said of Folmar: "Anytime you hire a head coach, you want to hire the right coach at the right time.  We've done it again.  His plans to maintain and improve the academic performance of the football team, along with his vision for community service, convinced us he's the right hire."

Kutztown had a bit of  a rough year at 4-8, but he and his team grew by the end of the season behind a young starting quarterback,.  They won four of their last five and finally were starting putting up the sort of numbers that Folmar offenses had been doing under Monica.

In fact, Folmar started nine true freshman at times:

WR Alex Tonnies, who had 54 catches for 664 yards a year ago to rank among the area's top high school receivers, was one of nine true freshmen used by new head coach Drew Folmar in the game. Included in that list was QB Alec Werner, who completed 40 of 57 attempts for 394 yards and three touchdowns.

The graduation of four of the top five receivers in Folmar's pass-happy offense was one of the reasons why Tonnies decided to go to Kutztown.

"We've always stressed we're going to play the best 11 guys no matter if they're here three weeks, three months or three years," said Folmar, who started as a true freshman at Millersville in 1997 and went on to throw for 10,843 yards and a then-PSAC record 92 touchdowns over a four-year career.

Werner's story sounds a lot like his coach's. Folmar beat out two returning quarterbacks on the roster to replace multi-year starter Greg Moylan, who at the time was second on the school's career yardage chart. Folmar won that battle and opened the season as the starter, ironically also against Clarion.

"We beat 'em," Folmar said, "but it took about three games for me to have as many yards as Alec had on Saturday."
(As a side note, Tonnies, who went to high school in Nazareth Area, was coached by Rob Melosky, a former Lehigh coach.)

Overall, the future seeemed very bright for Kutztown after last season's growing pains:
When Coach Folmar was named head coach on January 23, 2013, he was familiar with how to create a successful offense. According to the KU Bear’s website, Folmar had acquired one Capital One CoSIDA Academic All-American, two Academic All-District selections and 15 PSAC Scholar-Athletes awards. 
As a result, Folmar is very dedicated to creating a dynamic offense and has the proper apparatus to make that happen. Freshman QB Alec Werner had a successful year under Folmar’s tutelage, completing 176 of 300 completions for 1804 yards and 13 touchdowns. 
“There are three things we need to work on,” said Head Coach Folmar. “Rushing the ball, protecting the quarterback, and protecting the ball. These all contribute to each other and we can win or lose games because of them.”
Drew looked to be Kutztown's head coach and develop Kutztown's offense further in 2014 - until Andy called with the opportunity to be Lehigh's offensive coordinator, for Folmar to bring the high-powered offense from Kutztown to mesh with what Cecchini established here.

Potent offense and academics - which should make Lehigh Nation very happy.

"I'm extremely excited and I can't wait to get started," he said.

*****

In addition, Coen announced that Brett Sawyer, who has spent the last eight seasons as Lehigh's Offensive Line Coach and Recruiting Coordinator, has been promoted to Run Game Coordinator, while Jamel Mutunga joins the staff as an offensive assistant.

Coach Sawyer has been a mainstay on Andy's coaching staff, most notably as the position coach of OL Will Rackley, who was drafted by the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars and was their starting guard last season.

"Coach Sawyer has been instrumental in the success of our offense," Coen said. "During his tenure at Lehigh, Brett has produced many outstanding offensive linemen and has had a profound influence on our offensive attack."

Jamel Mutunga joins the Mountain Hawks' coaching staff as an offensive assistant. Mutunga comes to Lehigh from Muhlenberg where he spent two seasons on the offensive staff. He coached the tight ends and halfbacks and also served as video coordinator and operations assistant.


From Lehigh's official release: "Among Mutunga's duties at Muhlenberg were coaching special team position groups, recruiting high school student-athletes and serving as offensive coordinator for the junior varsity team. He was also responsible for weekly breakdown and analysis of offensive and special teams film and for coordinating daily filming of practice and games."



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