Dominant Council Rock Is A Multi-sport Juggernaut

Posted: June 24, 1990

Like most other area schools, Council Rock participated in Suburban One competition in 21 sports over the last school year.

Unlike most other area schools, the Indians won titles in 14 of them.

Baseball. Girls' basketball. Boys' cross country. Girls' cross country. Football. Golf. Girls' soccer. Softball. Boys' swimming. Girls' swimming. Boys' tennis. Girls' tennis. Boys' track. Boys' volleyball. One runs out of breath just reading the list.

Don't get the idea that Council Rock is an athletic powerhouse. No, indeed. Four of those titles - baseball, softball, girls' soccer, and boys' volleyball - were shared. Boys' basketball, field hockey, gymnastics, girls' track, and girls' volleyball could do no better than second place. The boys' soccer and wrestling teams were buried all the way down in third place. No teams finished lower than that, but there's always next year.

Though this year represented an outstanding performance, it was not completely out of line. During the last decade, the Indians have averaged almost nine league titles per year.

Why the consistent success?

"If I knew that, I'd bottle it, head for somewhere else, and make big buckos," said Council Rock athletic director Dennis Warg with a laugh.

Warg, his Pennsbury counterpart Robert Buckanavage, and Council Rock principal Jane Wilson agreed on three main components of Council Rock's strength: talented athletes, talented coaching, and a well-organized athletic program.

"There's excellent cooperation between our school board and our administration," Warg said, hastening to add that Council Rock's athletic department was not better funded than its competitors.

"As a matter of fact, our budget probably is lower than a lot of the budgets in the area. Our school board bases our funding on what is necessary. We don't go out and look for the things that are Cadillacs and may be nice to have but aren't necessary."

Warg and Buckanavage both made a point of praising the community support and feeder programs that benefit Council Rock.

"We have a community that supports our programs very strongly, both from the standpoint of parental support and from feeder programs that come in," Warg said. "This makes a tremendous difference. Our coaches take a real interest in the programs. A lot of our kids the coaches know through the youth programs, so when the kids reach here, (varsity sports) aren't foreign programs."

"If you evaluate their titles, you're probably looking at boys' and girls' cross country, boys' and girls' tennis, and boys' and girls' swimming," Buckanavage said. "They traditionally have been very strong in those sports. They have a great training facility in Tyler State Park, which carries over

from cross-country to winter track to spring track."

Furthermore, Buckanavage added, Council Rock, like Pennsbury, is one of the largest school districts in the area.

"Automatically, you've got numbers that will support your programs," he said. "When you put all those ingredients together, for the most part you're going to come up with a successful product."

While what the exact reasons for the success are may be unclear, Warg felt pretty strongly about what the reason isn't.

"Something I get sick of hearing," Warg said, "a lot of people always

throw out, 'little rich babys up in Newtown,' 'country-club sports,' and things like that. I'll tell you one thing, these kids are (at the high school) at 6 in the morning doing double practices. They practice long and hard."

Warg, completing his eighth year as Council Rock AD, credited families in the community with providing a stable foundation and work ethic on which a successful program could be built.

"When you look at what takes place in the home, that sets the groundwork for what will take place in the school, both athletically and academically. (Our athletes) have some self-discipline that they get maybe through the home. Under these circumstances, any program will become successful. I've been in situations where you don't know who's going to show up for practice the next day. That's no way to run a program."

Does the Rock's athletic success represent a misordering of priorities? Wilson doesn't think so.

"(The athletic success) creates a winning atmosphere, and the winning atmosphere is contagious," she said. "I think that has positive impact on all programs in the school, not just the athletic program. Our priorities are certainly very well balanced and in my view very healthy.

"We have tremendous success in our nonathletic programs," she said, lauding the Rock's theater, music, and marching band programs. "We are very successful in our curriculum. That's evidenced by the fact that 75 percent of our students progress to some form of higher education. I really think that if you put Council Rock High School under a microscope, you would find it strong in every area."

Pennsbury won one title outright and shared four others this year to finish a distant second behind Council Rock in overall Patriot Division performance.

"We had five champions this year - I consider that a good year," Buckanavage said. He laughed as he added, "And we probably finished second to Council Rock in ten others. We have a keen rivalry, but I don't know if I'm striving to match what they're doing."

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