Derry hires Mike Arone as football coach

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Thursday, January 6, 2022 | 9:29 PM


The Derry school board voted 8-0 on Thursday to hire Mike Arone as its new football coach.

He replaces Vince Skillings, who coached the Trojans the past two seasons.

Arone, an associate principal at the high school, worked as an assistant coach at Homer-Center from 1998-2020. He is a 1994 graduate of Homer-Center, where he played quarterback.

He attended Gannon for three years before graduating and earning his master’s from IUP.

Arone, 46, played for Rick Foust at Homer-Center and was an offensive assistant at Homer-Center under Bill Gazza, Ed Kowchuck and Greg Page.

Arone was hired as an associate principal before this school year. He helped out athletic director Brett Miller during the final two games of the Derry season after Skillings stepped away.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity Derry is giving me,” Arone said. “I love coaching football. I love teaching, and I love education.”

The board also named former assistant coach Joe Mylant as Arone’s first assistant. Mylant previously coached under Tim Sweeney.

“I think it’s important to have coaches in the school,” Arone said. “Joe and I will be out in the halls recruiting players to play football.”

Miller said the school district was fortunate to have several quality individuals apply for the head coach position.

“Some came with extensive assistant coaching experience and some with head coaching experience,” Miller said. “We conducted two rounds of interviews. During the second round, we asked candidates to analyze a game from the 2021 season and prepare an offensive and defensive plan of attack.

“Mike shined during the exercise. Mike demonstrated a strong ability to explain his strategy in a clear and concise manner that we felt our athletes would benefit from.”

Arone said he served as co-offensive coordinator, defensive backs coach, quarterbacks coach and a passing game coordinator on both sides of the ball.

“I value a strong running game,” Arone said. “But I’m not afraid to throw the ball. What I learned about the Derry players during those final two games were they never quit. I want to build a solid program and we have kids at Derry that can do it.”

Miller said another factor that stood out with Arone was his experience as an assistant at Homer Center.

“It’s uncommon to find candidates with his experience anymore,” Miller said. “I’ve worked with Mike since the beginning of the school year when he started as our associate principal. What I’ve learned about Mike is that he is a genuine family man with a blue-collar work ethic, two things that are key ingredients for success in Derry.

“Our athletes have a great leader ready to steer this program, and I’m excited to see where the program goes under his direction.”

Derry has dropped from Class 3A to Class 2A. There are many scenarios for a possible conference. Ligonier Valley, Yough, Burrell, Apollo-Ridge, Charleroi, Brownsville and Steel Valley are potential opponents. Another scenario has Washington, Waynesburg and McGuffey replacing Steel Valley and Imani Christian.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at pschofield@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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