Todd Massack wants to restore Riverview football to former winning ways
By: Doug Gulasy
Sunday, April 29, 2018 | 6:36 PM
Todd Massack can see the football field at Riverside Park from his kitchen window, so it's no stretch to day the success of Riverview's program hits him close to home.
Add Massack's family legacy, and the motivation doubles.
Hired last month for his second stint as football coach at his alma mater, Massack is working toward bringing Riverview back to the prominence it once enjoyed. The Raiders' only WPIAL playoff appearance in the past 10 seasons came in 2016. Their last winning season came in '10, and their most recent playoff victory came in '01.
“I have a lot of pride in the program, and I want to see the program succeed,” said Massack, who coached the Raiders from 2007-13, making one playoff appearance and finishing 20-46. “I want to see the players succeed. I want our players to have fun playing high school football, and that's what it's all about. It's part of the educational process. It's part of growing process. That's one of the things we want to do.”
Massack remembers Riverview's glory days, which include a WPIAL championship in 1997. He played for the legendary Chuck Wagner, graduating in 1984, and his grandfather, Elmer Gross, coached Oakmont from 1948-60. Two of his sons played for the Raiders, and a third, Jared, will be a senior in the fall.
“Riverview is a special place for me. It was a perfect fit,” said Massack, who also coached Fox Chapel from 2001-04 and has been a Riverview assistant the past three seasons. “I wanted to continue coaching, and I didn't want to go somewhere else when my son was here. I want to see him play and be a part of his senior year.”
Riverview, which finished 2-7 a season ago, faces significant challenges. Perhaps most notably, the Raiders play in the loaded Eastern Conference, which produced three of the four WPIAL Class A semifinalists last season: Clairton, Imani Christian and Jeannette. Jeannette won the WPIAL title over Imini. What's more, starting in 2018 the Class A playoff field will be cut from 16 teams to eight, leaving fewer postseason opportunities.
But Massack isn't worrying yet about games in September and October. He's deep in offseason speed and skill workouts, which consistently are drawing 25 to 30 players. He bought players T-shirts proclaiming “Total Commitment,” and he said he is happy with what he is seeing.
“I think for us, we are in a very tough, challenging section,” he said. “But right now, at the point we're at in April, May and June, our focus right now is just creating excitement in our program. And I see that. Our players are excited to be here. They were excited when they announced me to be coach, and we're carrying it forward.”
Massack said he learned from his first stint not to “sweat the small stuff” and is focusing on creating bonds with players and enthusiasm for the program.
“Our goal is to win football games,” he said. “I think every coach in America says that. But even more important, I want to be able to help each one of our players be the best player they can be, be the best student they can be and the best person they can be.
“To me, that's what high school coaching is all about.”