Piccinini out to change culture for Carlynton football

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Monday, August 19, 2019 | 8:09 PM


Rich Piccinini is one of the few football coaches in the WPIAL who knows what it is like to be in the playoffs with Carlynton. He was the Cougars’ offensive coordinator in 2001, the last time the team qualified for the postseason.

To put that in perspective, as Piccinini embarks on his first season as the Cougars’ coach, few — if any — of his current players even were born in 2001.

Conference titles? The most recent goes back to 1983, when Piccinini was a young player at Keystone Oaks under venerable coach John Durham.

Piccinini aims to change that for a program coming off an all-too-familiar showing: 1-6 in the Class 2A Three Rivers (2-8 overall). He brings with him nearly three decades of high school coaching experience as well as spending the past four seasons on the staff at perennial Division III college power Washington & Jefferson.

“We (coaches) talk privately about where we want to be, how many we want to win,” Piccinini said, “but we also talk about how we want to establish that we want to become a football school. And that’s not about setting a number.

“Before you can win championships, you have to win some games and get used to winning and know how to win games.”

Piccinini has made a conscious effort to start building a program. He had the middle school players working out with the varsity over the summer. He has been a presence at youth practices in the community, making sure all levels are running the same system and using the same terminology.

And, in a position that has seen a lot of turnover in recent memory, Piccinini insists he is in for the long haul.

“We don’t want to be a one-hit wonder,” he said. “We want to build a program and change the culture.”

Senior linebacker Dallas Paolino already has noticed a difference.

“During the offseasons, there was a select few people in the weight room,” he said, “but the new coach gives us a new dynamic. It feels like everyone has something to prove, and everyone worked really hard, packed on some weight and some muscle.”

Paolino, a four-year starter and two-time all-conference selection, is among several players who will be key to the Cougars’ efforts. Senior receivers Izaiah Babish and Christian Ray also return.

Carlynton will have a young-but-experienced group of offensive linemen, led by returners Sonny Peterson, Pierce Greiner, Tyler Masdea and Levi Blystone.

The quarterback competition is open after the graduation of starter Maclaine Greiner, but Piccinini said sophomore Elijah Babish has shown promise during the offseason.

“The kids are hard workers,” Piccinini said. “They’ve really given an effort to learn things. They are a group that wants to be coached. It’s a group that wants to turn around the program and create a new culture.”

Piccinini understands building the Cougars will be a process. The seniors likely won’t be around to see their new coach’s plans come to fruition.

Paolino and his classmates, however, have remained engaged, knowing they are equally important to fulfilling Piccinini’s vision.

“I feel a little bit more togetherness,” Paolino said. “We’re more like a brotherhood rather than playing for our single stats. There’s more people here to better the team and get to the playoffs rather than just showing up to get a jersey.

“I feel like this senior class, although it might not be the biggest, this is the tide-turning class. Whether we win all 10 games or win one, our heart and the way we go about the game is going to surprise people.”

Schedule

Coach: Rich Piccinini

2018 record: 2-8, 1-6

All-time record: 168-293-10

Date, Opponent, Time

8.23, Bishop Canevin, 7

8.30, Fort Cherry*, 7

9.6, at Apollo-Ridge, 7

9.13, at South Side Beaver*, 7

9.20, Serra Catholic*, 7

9.27, at Riverside, 7

10.4, Burgettstown*, 7

10.11, at Brentwood*, 7

10.18, South Allegheny*, 7

10.25, at Seton LaSalle*+, 7

*Class 2A Three Rivers Conference

+At Peters Township

Statistical leaders

Passing: Maclaine Greiner*

29-86, 553 yards, 1 TD

Receiving: Christian Ray*

11-140 yards, 2 TDs

Rushing: William Richardson-McClendon*

32-308 yards, 11 TDs

*Graduated

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