Creating a Dynasty
In football, just like in life, it’s pretty simple when it comes to following a successful predecessor. You just don’t want to be the guy who takes over for the guy, but in 2006 that was the hand that Jim Clements was dealt at Delaware Valley College. His job – meet the expectations of a fan base that just watched G.A. Mangus blaze through the NCAA Division III Playoffs two straight years en route to 12-1 records – something with which the Aggie faithful certainly was not accustomed.
Clements however was no wet-behind-the-ears assistant. He had paid his dues and in fact, been largely responsible for the success the Aggies were already having on the field under the coach that would leave for Middle Tennessee State. Having already learned from College Football Hall of Fame coach Bill Manlove and Mangus gave him all the artillery he needed.
In fact, upon arriving in Doylestown as a defensive coordinator … Clements’ impact was immediately felt. That impact was defense and lots of it – something that the Aggies had never really had before. Until then, they had simply outscored opponents.
Matt Levy, the school’s Associate Athletic Director, talked about when he knew that Coach Clements was unique.
“The year before Coach Clements got here we went up against Wilkes and their star running back Brett Trichilo put up 207 yards and three touchdowns on us,” Levy said. “They beat us 36-19 in Week 9 of the regular season.”
“In 2004, in steps Coach Clements and we have Wilkes again Week 9,” Levy went on to say. “Same running back for them and he only had 69 yards on 25 carries. We had pretty much the same players on defense, but Coach just had a different scheme and a different way of playing. We shut them out.”
Instant impact. In fact, the defense was so sturdy that year that they only permitted 16.1 points per game in the regular season, which was much better than the 27.8 per game allowed before Clements arrived the previous season.
This was of course a precursor for a monumental change at Del Val, the passing of the torch from Mangus to Clements. After such colossal success under his regime, it is certain that some enthusiasts agonized that the program might relegate to the poor condition it had been in the past (they had not had a winning season since 1985), however Clements not only took the torch – he sprinted with it.
In his first year as a head coach, Clements watched his offense struggle a bit; however his defense reached new heights and was simply masterful. In the regular season they pitched four shutouts and only conceded 8.5 points per game. This was a mind-numbing statistic that further exemplified there was not only a new sheriff in town, but a new approach to the game as well.
After a playoff loss that season and a bit of a down year in 2007, Clements got into his third year and really put his stamp on the program. The team posted an 8-3 record in 2008 and defeated Kean in the ECAC South Atlantic Bowl at the end of the season and was back to its winning ways.
It seems like 2009 is when everything came together for Clements and his staff as his prolific defense was finally met with an abundant offensive output as well. The Aggies ripped through their opponents that season – highlighted by a 66-7 routing of Susquehanna in the NCAA Playoffs – and finished with a 10-2 record.
Success has not stopped since then for Del Val, something that could not be said for a period of more than three years before Clements arrived. The coach has taken his team to the second round of the NCAA tournament three years in a row and captured four straight MAC Championships. During his tenure as head coach, he has also compiled a record of 51-17, which is not only impressive, but also ties him for the school record for most wins in Aggies history.
In other words, while we watch history being shaped at Del Val … Jim Clements is building a dynasty there.
While doing so, he has been able to touch the lives of others on and off the field while at Del Val and has inspired many, including one of his young assistant coaches.
“I have worked with a lot of coaches, but I put Coach Clements in a class of his own,” defensive backs coach Jason Pane explained. “The program is successful because he doesn’t have to motivate, but simply imposes his expectations and people follow him.”
“Players want to work harder and we as coaches want to accomplish what he does because he has established a culture that has trickled down into everyone from his own personality,” Pane went on to say. “As a teacher, I’m very sensitive to what he’s doing and even I can’t figure out how he accomplishes what he does. I can say that through his consistency in his discipline, his approach and how he runs the program he has garnered ultimate respect from everyone around him.”
Whether or not continued success will happen for the Aggies doesn’t seem to be a matter of a question, but a foregone conclusion.
“I’m not sure if anyone has ever won five championships in a row, but there is no reason we can’t do it,” Pane stated. “It’s all about the vision he’s built here. I can tell you Coach Clements is 100-percent of the reason I love being at Del Val.”
So, the coach will continue.
He will continue to help aid the “Get in the Game, Save a Life Program” in an effort to recruit new members to the National Marrow Donor Program registry; something the school has done for the past four years. Del Val will continue to help support CHOP with its “Reach Out and Read Early” literacy program by collecting countless amounts of book on campus.
And it looks like as long as Jim Clements is at the reigns, the Aggies will be a force to be reckoned with not only in the MAC, but in all of Division III Football.