Football coach Mike Collodi leaves Elizabeth Forward for Mt. Lebanon

Friday, February 24, 2023 | 2:09 AM

A football player’s body language and how he carries himself are important to Mike Collodi, who was thrilled with the reception he received Thursday as Mt. Lebanon’s new coach.

The former Elizabeth Forward coach met at the school with his new Blue Devils players and came away impressed.

“I’m really big into character,” he said. “To walk into a room where they all shake my hand and they all look me in the eye and they all thank me, that resonates a lot with me. It just shows what coach (Bob) Palko has instilled in these guys and what we’re going to continue to do.”

Mt. Lebanon chose Collodi to replace Palko, who resigned in January after four seasons. The school district announced his hire Thursday.

Collodi went 56-24 in eight seasons at Elizabeth Forward and reached the playoffs in each of the past six years. His team’s best season was in 2020, when the Warriors went 8-1 and finished as the WPIAL Class 3A runners-up.

“In all honesty, there aren’t many jobs that I was going to leave EF for,” Collodi said. “We had EF rolling right now. It’s a really, really successful team and I’m proud of that. But Mt. Lebanon is one of the very few, if not the only job I would consider leaving for.”

Mt. Lebanon is only two years removed from winning WPIAL and PIAA Class 6A titles in 2021. The Blue Devils went 5-6 last season and reached the WPIAL playoffs.

“When you say Mt. Lebanon, everybody knows what that means,” Collodi said. “They’re coming off a huge state title in the biggest classification. They had one of the best coaches in WPIAL history. So I know the foundation is great. I know the kids are already going to be taught great fundamentals, great discipline and great toughness from Coach Palko.”

Collodi will continue to work as a teacher in the South Park district.

A Burrell graduate, Collodi played defensive end at Muskingum College, where he was a team captain. He and his wife Ali have a son, Luca. They live in Eighty Four.

The commute to Mt. Lebanon will be shorter than to Elizabeth Forward.

“It’s a little bit closer to my house,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s better for my family.”

Collodi and his staff took over an EF program that went 3-6 their first season before celebrating seven consecutive winning seasons. The team went 9-2 last fall.

He said he expected to bring some assistant coaches with him.

“Those are some of the best years of my entire life,” Collodi said. “Winning four conference titles was unbelievable. The school before we got there only had two conference titles in its history, and we won four in eight years. Playing for a WPIAL title was special. That was the first time in school history.”

Collodi met with his EF players Tuesday to tell them he was leaving.

“I know my guys inside and out, and they know me,” he said. “There were tears in their eyes. I was choked up. It was a hard time, but they understood.”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at or via Twitter .

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