New Yough football coach set on bringing winning mentality to program

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Thursday, July 14, 2022 | 12:58 PM


Working at Lucky Lottery in Trafford has given Ben Hoffer a greater appreciation for the game of chance. There, anyone can scratch off a winner or prosper with a random combination of numbers.

The new Yough football coach has his team in line to play the Powerball. Why not? The long-struggling Cougars are ready to take another spin at the wheel as they try to finally turn a corner.

A young, enthusiastic coach is passing out confidence like it’s a stack of physical forms.

“It’s about changing their mindset,” said Hoffer, a former Yough standout running back and the program’s second-leading rusher. “They know losing, and that has become common here. I want them to know what winning feels like.”

Yough hasn’t won more than three games in a season since 2016.

Hoffer, a former Washington & Jefferson player who went on to serve as an assistant coach at East Allegheny for nine years, had 35 players show up to mini-camp, and he hopes for that many or more when training camp opens Aug. 8.

“We keep pushing that positivity,” Hoffer said. “Our kids aren’t that different from the kids at EA. We don’t have weak kids. We should be able to compete. Let’s show what our athletes can do.”

Marrying those beliefs with the fact Yough will drop from Class 3A to 2A could unlock success in a program that went 1-9 last season and has not made the WPIAL playoffs since 2013.

“I’m sure we’ll have some stragglers when camp starts,” said Hoffer, who replaced Chris Chunko, the Cougars coach who resigned after two seasons. “I hope to see the same numbers when workouts become mandatory. I want them to stick with it.”

An all-Yough alumni staff will assist Hoffer, 31. The offensive coordinator will be Joe Korpar, 66, who coached at Yough when Gary Dongilli was in charge. His son, Joey, who played with Hoffer, will be the strength and conditioning coach.

“Joe knows we can win,” Hoffer said of the older coach.

Larry Hixson (offensive line), Jim Schaffer (WR/DBs), Dan Palm (LB/RBs) and principal Brian Sutherland (OL/DL), a nose tackle when he played at Cal (Pa.), make up the rest of the staff.

“We’ll be a multiple (offense) team,” Hoffer said. “I will bring some new terminology that the kids might not be used to.

“I know I am going to want to gun-sling it around, so Joe might have to calm me down. We should be able to run the ball. We have multiple guys who can run it.”

Yough will send players to the first Willie Thrower Quarterback Camp on Saturday at Valley and will compete in the Westmoreland County Coaches Association Larry Sellitto Memorial 7 on 7 Championship next Thursday at Latrobe.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at bbeckner@triblive.com.

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