Promotion at Hampton led to Steve Sciullo’s tough decision to leave Deer Lakes

Friday, May 25, 2018 | 10:51 PM

Steve Sciullo always preached the importance of family to his Deer Lakes football players.

So when a too-good-to-pass-up opportunity came, Sciullo knew he had to put his money where his mouth was — even if it meant giving up his time with the Lancers.

Sciullo resigned last week after four seasons at Deer Lakes after receiving a promotion at Hampton High School, his employer for the last nine years. Hampton promoted Sciullo from a paraprofessional to a safety and security specialist, and he also will be an assistant under football coach Jacque DeMatteo.

The new position comes with a pay bump and more security for his family, Sciullo said, making it one he felt he had to take.

“I'd be a hypocrite if I didn't put my family first,” Sciullo said. “Unfortunately I had to leave (Deer Lakes) to do that, but that's just a fact of life sometimes. Young kids, they're resilient. They'll get over that I'm not there. It'll take me a few days. Obviously, it's going to be tough. I had great relationships with the kids there. They worked their (butt) off for me. I'll be forever indebted to them for that. Hopefully, they learned some life lessons from me and learned a whole (heck) of a lot of football.”

Deer Lakes athletic director Charles Bellisario said the district will begin its search for a coach after the school board accepts Sciullo's resignation at its June meeting.

“He did a great job for our program, and he'll be sorely missed,” Bellisario said. “We'll continue to do what we're doing. He gave everything he had for our program, and he did so much for our kids. I am more than grateful for everything he's done.”

A Shaler graduate and former offensive lineman for the Indianapolis Colts, Philadelphia Eagles and Carolina Panthers, Sciullo became Deer Lakes' coach in 2014 and led the Lancers to an 11-26 record and one playoff appearance in his four seasons.

That playoff berth, the second in school history, came in 2015, when the Lancers achieved several program firsts: including their first 4-0 start and their first win at Allegheny Conference rival Valley. The Steelers named Sciullo their High School Football Coach of the Week during the season, recognizing him during a game at Heinz Field.

Sciullo brought his offensive line expertise to Deer Lakes and helped create the “Jolly Green Giants,” a powerful offensive line that paved the way for 1,600-yard rusher Hunter Burns.

“It was a blast, starting 4-0 for the first time in school history,” Sciullo said. “Those guys earned me the coach of the week from the Steelers. It was the kids, not me. But it was things like that. Getting to play Highlands — 4-0 against 4-0 — a really energized game at our place. The stands were full. It was a (heck) of a game, something I'm never going to forget. I know the kids won't. I won't. My coaches won't. That year was awesome.”

Deer Lakes finished 2-7 each of the past two seasons, slipping out of the playoffs. But one of Sciullo's goals was to build Deer Lakes into a team that could compete consistently, one that wasn't a “homecoming game” patsy for its opponents.

He believes the Lancers are poised to break through to that level, and he'll be watching closely. Although he won't be coaching there, he still used the word “we” when discussing Deer Lakes.

“It's tough to compete, but we did as well as we could,” Sciullo said. “I think we're going to have a good team this year over there. That's one of the hardest things to deal with is we're going to be pretty good over there this year. We've got a good group of seniors over there at Deer Lakes, and I think they're going to have a chance to compete for the section and a playoff berth.”

Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review staff writer.


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