A-K Valley football notebook: Riverview, Springdale to honor Wagner on Friday night

Thursday, September 28, 2017 | 5:36 PM

Riverview's annual night football game, scheduled for 7 Friday against Springdale, took on greater significance Monday after the death of legendary coach Chuck Wagner.

Not only did Wagner coach and win WPIAL championships in both communities — taking Oakmont to the 1965 Class B title and Springdale the 2003 Class A title — he left a mark outside the football field, as well.

“He was a great guy,” Riverview athletic director Mario Rometo said of Wagner, whom he met when Wagner became an assistant for former Riverview coach Todd Massack in 2013. “Just listening to his stories, it was fun having him around. He was there every day at practice, helping us out. It was just great seeing him interact with the kids.

“I went to coaching clinics with him, (and) picking his brain and hearing his stories about when he grew up and how he coached and what he did … I feel very fortunate to have been able to be around him and close to him and hear those stories.”

Riverview will hold a moment of silence for Wagner at around 6:45 p.m. Members of both teams and cheerleading squads will release balloons near midfield.

“We lost not only a great football coach, we lost a great person in Chuck Wagner,” said Springdale athletic director Ray Davis, adding a similar ceremony is planned for the Dynamos' Oct. 6 home game against Jeannette. “He affected so many kids', now adults', lives throughout his entire career. He was a friend, a football coach, a colleague, he was just a wonderful guy. I think he'll be missed by many, many, many people.”

Wagner began coaching at Oakmont in 1961 and became Riverview's first coach when the district formed from the consolidation of Oakmont and Verona in 1971. After stepping down in 1985, he coached Fox Chapel from 1988-90 and Springdale from 1993-2011 before becoming a Riverview assistant in 2013.

He was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2012 but still remained around the Springdale program in recent years.

“Without him, there may not be a program at either school,” Springdale coach Seth Napierkowski said. “Springdale had gone through a lot of tough times before he got to the school, and he turned that program around and laid the foundation for what we're doing today.”

Napierkowski said he last saw Wagner over the summer.

“Every time I saw him, it was great to talk to him,” Napierkowski said. “He was always very positive and just was a joy to talk to.”

Anniversary celebration

Riverview also is celebrating the 20th anniversary of its 1997 WPIAL championship team at Friday's game. Rometo said members of the 1997 team will be recognized on the field at halftime, after the band's performance. He said somewhere between 15 and 20 players and potentially some coaches are expected in attendance.

Skyy-high feeling

Shady Side Academy junior Skyy Moore, a New Kensington native, is turning heads in the Allegheny Conference with his dual-threat play at quarterback. And now others are taking notice.

Moore received his first scholarship offer earlier this week, from Football Championship Subdivision member Howard. Greensburg Salem graduate Brennan Marion is offensive coordinator for the Bison, who pulled off a shocking upset of UNLV as a 40-plus-point underdog this season.

After missing most of last season with an ankle injury, Moore accounted for more than 1,100 combined passing and rushing yards and 13 touchdowns in Shady Side Academy's first four games.

Break of Shawn

Shawn Liotta led Albert Gallatin to a signature upset of West Mifflin in Week 3, and now he will attempt to do something similar in his Alle-Kiski Valley backyard. Liotta, a Springdale graduate and Albert Gallatin's coach, will bring the Colonials to Highlands on Friday night for a nonconference game.

Albert Gallatin, which hasn't recorded a winning season since the district consolidated in 1987, beat West Mifflin, 28-27, before suffering a 69-0 defeat last week against Thomas Jefferson. Highlands won a nonconference game at Albert Gallatin last season 42-0.

Liotta, in his second season at Albert Gallatin, previously coached Line Mountain, West Shamokin and the Erie Explosion indoor professional team and was an assistant at Springdale, Duquesne University, Yough, McKeesport, Saltsburg and Clairton.

Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review staff writer.

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