Leechburg hires new football coach, athletic director

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Wednesday, March 25, 2020 | 9:01 PM


As an assistant coach with Burrell football the last two seasons, Randy Walters watched the Bucs fling the ball all over the field using head coach Shawn Liotta’s up-tempo Air Raid approach.

It’s the kind of offense that can stir football passions in a coach, especially an old quarterback, and that’s what happened to Walters.

Getting back in the head-coaching game after a decade-long absence, Walters was named Leechburg coach at a virtual school board meeting Wednesday night.

“The last couple years have been really invigorating, just seeing the way (Liotta) does things,” Walters said. “He does a great job in all aspects of being a head coach. It kind of got me back on the track of wanting to give it another shot.”

The school board also announced the hiring of Andre Carter, the school’s girls basketball coach for the past two seasons, as athletic director to replace Mark Jones, who is retiring.

Walters replaces Mark George, who led the football program the previous nine seasons.

When Southmoreland made the playoffs last season after a 40-year absence, Leechburg, which hasn’t qualified for the postseason since 1988, claimed the dubious distinction of being the WPIAL team with the longest football playoff drought.

But that only tells part of the story. The Blue Devils have gone 5-5 in each of the past two seasons after winning only one game in the previous two seasons combined. It’s a program moving in the right direction.

Walters didn’t guarantee an immediate return to the playoffs. It would be hard to make such a boast while playing in a Class A section that includes Clairton and Jeannette. But he is excited about the team’s potential.

“We’re going to do as much Air Raid as we can,” Walters said. “We’re going to do it as fast as we can. I think it’s going to take a while to ramp up like Shawn does it at Burrell, but that’s definitely going to be the basis of our offense.”

Walters, 59, has a long and varied coaching resume.

Born in southern Ontario, he was a Canadian college quarterback before coaching at Edinboro and Gannon.

When Gannon overhauled its coaching staff, Walters changed his career course. His wife is from Turtle Creek, so the family settled in Western Pennsylvania. He took a teaching job at Valley, which he has held for the last 18 years.

In the first decade of this century, Walters was a head coach at McGuffey, Valley and Bentworth.

At that point, the older two of his three sons were ready to play high school football, so he stepped back into an assistant’s role at Hempfield. He was also an assistant at Leechburg under Ed Jenkins in 2006 and Yough before moving on to Burrell.

Carter, 47, is a Valley graduate who works as an investment club manager in addition to his basketball coaching duties. He said he is looking forward to learning from Jones before he leaves the AD post.

The school board also announced it will proceed with a plan to install a turf field and make improvements to the track at Veterans Memorial Stadium.

The board voted last summer to consider the project at a cost of $560,000. The expenditure is part of a bond issue taken out in 2017 that included $1.6 million for athletic facility upgrades.

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review Assistant Sports Editor. You can contact Jonathan by email at jbombulie@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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