Perry searching for new football coach after Rod Rutherford resigns

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Tuesday, July 14, 2020 | 2:16 PM


Perry football coach Rod Rutherford has resigned, leaving his alma mater searching for a replacement just weeks before the season starts.

A former Pitt quarterback and City League star, Rutherford resigned earlier this month for personal reasons, said Karen Arnold, athletic director of Pittsburgh Public Schools.

Rutherford couldn’t be reached for comment.

The 1999 Perry graduate went 7-18 in three seasons as the team’s coach. Arnold said she was hopeful a new coach could be chosen before the end of the month.

The district already received a number of applicants.

“We want to get somebody in place for the start of the new season,” Arnold said.

There’s a need to hurry because heat acclimatization week for all PIAA teams starts Aug. 10, and the first day of practice is Aug. 17.

“I don’t want to criticize Rod because he left for whatever reason he left and that’s his business,” Arnold said. “But I think with any sport, it’s a tough position for a team to move into your season without a coach.”

The school board in June furloughed Rutherford from his job at Obama Academy, according to board minutes. Rutherford was concerned that the time constraints of coaching football would hinder his ability to find another job, retiring Perry athletic director John Clayton said.

Perry was a City League football power with Rutherford at quarterback in the late 1990s. His teams won consecutive City League titles in 1997 and ’98, reaching the state finals his junior season. The Commodores went on to win the City League trophy eight times in a nine-year span from 1997-2005.

The school won again in 2010 and ’12, but has struggled in recent years. The Commodores went 3-6 last season, 3-5 in 2018 and 1-7 in 2017.

Rutherford started two seasons at Pitt before spending a few years with the Carolina Panthers and Pittsburgh Steelers. Prior to becoming Perry’s coach, he worked five seasons as an IUP assistant coach.

City League teams haven’t started summer workouts yet. Teams are waiting for the school board to approve a health and safety plan for covid-19, which could happen this week, Arnold said.

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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