New Castle’s Joe Cowart resigns after 10 seasons, sent 2 former players to NFL

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Wednesday, February 9, 2022 | 3:30 AM


Not many WPIAL football coaches have had two former players active in the NFL at the same time, but New Castle’s Joe Cowart did during his coaching tenure, which came to a close this winter.

Cowart resigned in late January after 10 seasons as New Castle’s football coach, but will continue to lead the school’s track team. His football teams compiled a 55-48 career record. They reached the WPIAL playoffs eight times including this past fall when the Red Hurricanes went 7-5.

“My son is 9. My daughter is 7. I want to be more involved with what they’re doing,” Cowart said. “I felt like it was time to close the chapter and move in a different direction.

“We had a good run.”

His best season came in 2016 when New Castle went 8-5 and finished as the WPIAL Class 4A runner-up. The championship game appearance was the program’s first since 1998, when Cowart was still on the roster.

Cowart said he and his staff are most proud of the number of athletes who later played in college, a list that includes current NFL players Malik Hooker (Ohio State) and Geno Stone (Iowa).

Hooker, a first-round NFL Draft pick in 2017, played this season for the Dallas Cowboys. Stone played for the Baltimore Ravens, and on Jan. 9 picked off what was the last career interception thrown by retiring Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

“When we look back, we can look at the impact we’ve left on student-athletes that have climbed to some pretty high heights,” Cowart said. “Obviously, there are two guys in the NFL, but also a large amount of kids who have gone on to play football (in college), and some who are now coaching football. That couldn’t be more exciting for a guy like me who loves the game.”

Cowart might coach again in the future, saying he resigned as coach but didn’t retire. He’ll also continue teaching in the district.

“I’ve been around for about 15 years,” said Cowart, who was an assistant before becoming head coach, “and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”

More than 20 WPIAL schools will change football coaches this winter. Among them, Cowart and Hampton’s Jacque DeMatteo resigned after staying at one school for a decade or more.

Some schools have already found their next coach including Ellwood City (Dan Bradley), Frazier (Mike Shannon), Imani Christian (LaRoi Johnson), Jeannette (Thomas Paulone), Knoch (Tim Burchett), Derry (Mike Arone), Sto-Rox (Marvin Mills) and Pine-Richland (Jon LeDonne).

Also seeking applicants this winter were Connellsville, Indiana, Keystone Oaks, Latrobe, Mars, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Southmoreland, Penn Hills, Ringgold, South Allegheny, Springdale, Quaker Valley and Valley.

At Mars, the school board opened the football position to applicants but current coach Scott Heinauer said he would reapply.

Southmoreland intended to promote assistant Ron Frederick to head coach but the 1999 graduate died Feb. 3.

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

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