Bob Palko, 9-time WPIAL champion, resigns as Mt. Lebanon football coach

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Friday, January 6, 2023 | 12:42 PM


Thirteen months after celebrating a state championship with the Blue Devils, Bob Palko has resigned as Mt. Lebanon’s football coach to focus attention on concerns away from the field.

“I’ve got some personal health issues I need to deal with,” he said Friday. “It’s nothing like I’m going to die, but there are things I need to take care of. And I have some family things I need to get in order as well.”

Palko, 63, insisted this isn’t his retirement, but said he won’t be coaching anywhere this coming fall. He is tied for the most WPIAL titles in league history with nine.

The NFL named him the Don Shula High School Coach of the Year in 2021 when Mt. Lebanon went 15-0, winning WPIAL and PIAA Class 6A titles.

The late-October death of Palko’s mother Laverne at age 96 led to new priorities.

“Having my mom pass not long ago kind of hit me more than I thought it would,” he said, adding that buying and renovating his childhood home is maybe in his plans.

Palko coached 24 seasons at West Allegheny and won eight WPIAL titles there. In 2019, Palko was hired at Mt. Lebanon to lead a program that hadn’t won a WPIAL title since 2000.

He ended that drought in his third year.

“I’m just really thankful and appreciative of all he’s done for our kids and our program over the last four years,” Mt. Lebanon athletic director John Grogan said. “He’s just such a good person and a great coach. We’re certainly going to miss him and wish him the best moving forward.”

Mt. Lebanon went 5-6 this season and reached the WPIAL playoffs.

There are a number of WPIAL schools currently looking for football coaches, but Palko said he’s taking at least a year off. For now, Palko said, he just doesn’t have the time needed to coach.

“To be honest with you, the only thing I’ve ever known is 12- or 14-hour days,” Palko said. “I can’t give that job the time necessary to do it right — or at least the way I know how to do it.”

Chris Harlan is a TribLive reporter covering sports. He joined the Trib in 2009 after seven years as a reporter at the Beaver County Times. He can be reached at charlan@triblive.com.

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