With Bob Palko nearing retirement, West Allegheny eyes succession plan

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Thursday, January 4, 2018 | 11:56 PM


West Allegheny is hiring a new football coach, but Bob Palko isn't leaving quite yet.

Palko, who has won more WPIAL football titles than any coach in history, said Thursday he'll return for one more year before handing over the program to his eventual successor. With that in mind, West A will interview candidates to work alongside Palko next season as the head coach in waiting.

“That's what's best for the program,” said Palko, who has won eight WPIAL titles in 23 seasons. “At the end of the day, that's near and dear to us. We think the program deserves something like that to happen. It was the best thing to do to make the transition as smooth as possible.”

Palko, 58, will retire from the district as an educator after this school year and was undecided after football season whether he'd remain coach.

The decision to return for one season was reached shortly before Christmas break, athletic director Dave McBain said.

“Bob has put a lot of time and effort into building this program over 20-plus years, and he wanted to see it go in a positive direction,” McBain said. “We agree with him as a district. The school board and our administrative team all saw the merits of doing this so we had continuity for the kids.”

The administration will interview applicants this month, McBain said, with plans to present a candidate for school board approval in February. Palko was optimistic his replacement might already be on staff.

“That would make the transition even smoother,” he said.

West Allegheny hired Palko in 1995. His teams won WPIAL titles in '97, 1999-2001, '09, '15 and '16, along with a state title in '01.

Palko won't coach high school football after next season, but said he doesn't plan to retire from coaching. He'll look to join a college or professional football staff.

“I'm not done-done,” Palko said, “but I don't know where I'll be.”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at charlan@tribweb.com or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.

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