The long lineage of Fort Cherry High School football coaches with the last name of Garry will continue next season.
The district’s board approved the hiring of former player Tanner Garry as its next head coach at a meeting Monday night.
“Watching my dad, watching my pap and watching my uncle, it almost felt like it was something I wanted to do but was going to do one way or the other,” Garry said. “I love it. I love being able to teach kids about football or life in general. Whenever it comes to stuff that means a lot to our family, football is one of those things.”
Garry’s playing days for the Rangers came under his dad, Tim, who spent nine seasons as the coach. Jim Garry, Tanner’s grandfather, coached for 43 years beginning when the school opened in 1960. The stadium in McDonald is named after the longtime coach.
Tanner Garry is replacing Jim Shiel, who resigned early last month after eight seasons. Under Shiel, the Rangers made the Class A playoffs in 2013, 2016 and 2017, but struggled the past two seasons with just two wins after moving up to Class 2A.
“My main goal is (bringing) pride back in the community and in school,” Garry said. “Whenever I was in school, everybody was happy and prideful about where we were from. Fort Cherry had a hard-nosed reputation of kids that were well coached and will hit you on every single play. We have to bring back that pride and tradition.”
Garry graduated from Fort Cherry in 2012, finishing his senior season at quarterback with 2,873 total yards and 35 touchdowns. He threw for 4,502 passing yards during his high school career.
After redshirting at Bowling Green to begin his collegiate career, Garry transferred to Youngstown State for two seasons and served as a reserve quarterback and the team’s placeholder.
Garry’s college career took off when he returned to Pennsylvania to play at Slippery Rock. In his first season starting at quarterback since his senior year in high school, he became the top passer in NCAA Division II with 3,522 yards and 32 touchdowns and led The Rock to an 8-3 record.
Getting back to those golden days starts with the community, according to Garry.
“You start with getting people to care about it again,” he said. “Then, I think getting in there and instilling in these kids, because they might be too young to remember, but there was a time Fort Cherry football was talked about as a winner. I’ll pull up old film if I have to so they can see what Fort Cherry used to be about. All the people that came before them.”
Garry spent the last two seasons as quarterbacks coach at South Fayette under Joe Rossi.
“Being with Joe over the last couple of years was great,” Garry said. “He’s somebody who has had huge success, and when you end up on his staff, it’s no secret why.”
Garry plans to have his father, cousin Corey, also a Fort Cherry graduate, and Keystone Oaks assistant coach Jeff Sieg all on staff.