Central Catholic hires former Seneca Valley, Pine-Richland assistant Ryan Lehmeier as football coach

Tuesday, January 24, 2023 | 9:01 AM

Central Catholic’s new football coach wasn’t chosen from the school’s alumni list, but that doesn’t mean Ryan Lehmeier isn’t already familiar with the team’s tradition.

Eleven times in the past eight years, Lehmeier coached a team on the opposite sideline from Central Catholic, so he can appreciate the success of the Vikings’ program.

“I’m humbled beyond belief to be able to represent this great school and all of the graduates and alumni who have played there and coached there,” said Lehmeier, a former assistant at Seneca Valley and Pine-Richland, who was hired Tuesday as Central Catholic’s coach.

Lehmeier replaces longtime coach Terry Totten, a 1976 Central Catholic graduate, who retired last month after 18 seasons.

“Over the past two days, I’ve talked to a lot of people who hold this school and this football program in the most high regard,” Lehmeier said. “They really care about this place. It’s my job to uphold that tradition.”

This is the first head coaching job for Lehmeier, 34, who has three WPIAL and two state titles on his resume as an assistant. He served the past two seasons as offensive coordinator at Seneca Valley under Ron Butschle, and previously worked six seasons at Pine-Richland with Eric Kasperowicz, the final four as the Rams’ offensive coordinator.

In four of his six seasons as a coordinator, Lehmeier’s offenses had a quarterback pass for more than 2,000 yards. Pine-Richland’s Phil Jurkovec had nearly 4,000 in 2017.

Lehmeier takes over a Central Catholic team that was WPIAL 6A runner-up last season with a junior-heavy roster. The Vikings have reached the WPIAL finals nine times in 10 years. They’ve won five titles in that span.

“Anytime we played Central, it was a big game,” Lehmeier said. “They were a team we had circled every year.”

Totten retired with a 188-40 career record, six WPIAL titles and two state championships.

“Part of this being such a desirable job is because of the way it was left by Coach Totten,” Lehmeier said.

A 2006 North Hills graduate who played college football at Slippery Rock, Lehmeier works as a teacher for Pittsburgh Public Schools. He’s a member of St. Kilian Catholic Church in Cranberry, the school noted in its release announcing his hire.

Central Catholic principal Brother Mike Andrejko added: “In addition to his time on the gridiron, we look forward to him joining our Lasallian education system and expect great things as he becomes an addition to the Central Catholic community!”

Seneca Valley went 13-8 in two seasons with Lehmeier, and senior quarterback Graham Hancox passed for 2,012 yards and 20 touchdowns last fall. At Pine-Richland, the Rams went 48-5, winning three WPIAL titles and two state championships.

As a high school player, Lehmeier was a dual-thread quarterback for North Hills coach Jack McCurry. After college, he started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Findley, and later was hired as running backs coach at Duquesne under Jerry Schmitt.

“Aside from my own parents, the biggest influences in my life have been my football coaches,” Lehmeier said. “I’ve been so fortunate to play under Jack McCurry, and then play for the winningest coach in the PSAC in George Mihalik.”

Lehmeier inherits a 2,000-yard passer at Central Catholic in quarterback Payton Wehner, and the team has three pass-catchers with Division I college offers in wideouts Peter Gonzalez and Vernon Settles and tight end Cole Sullivan. All four will be seniors next season.

Lehmeier proved himself as a successful play-caller as an offensive coordinator, but said his focus as a head coach will be wider in scope.

“We’re going to be aggressive in everything that we do in all three facets,” he said. “Everything we’re going to do is fast.”

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.


More High School Football

Westmoreland high school notebook: Hempfield punter makes all-star roster
Westmoreland County high school notebook: New challenge awaits Latrobe after WPIAL realignment
PSFCA announces rosters for 2024 East-West all-star football games
8 WPIAL all-stars selected for 67th annual Big 33 Football Classic
Burrell football coach Shawn Liotta named general manager for USA Football U20 team