Steve Sciullo takes over Hampton football program
Tuesday, March 1, 2022 | 11:30 AM
Steve Sciullo had a Hall of Fame playing career.
He’s hoping to experience a successful coaching career, as well.
The 41-year-old Sciullo was hired recently to coach the Hampton football program, taking over for Jacque DeMatteo who resigned this winter after 14 seasons on the sideline.
The Talbots enjoyed one of their best seasons in school history in 2021, posting an 11-1 record and winning the Greater Allegheny Conference title with a 7-0 mark.
“I’m excited to lead the Talbots,” Sciullo said. “I’ve learned so much from Jacque Dematteo over the last 13 seasons that I’m unquestionably prepared to be the head coach. I just really enjoyed getting to coach with him. He’s been an incredible role model for the kids, and I just hope to be able to continue what we’ve done the past two seasons (16-4 overall).
“The first order of business was to have our weight program start on time and be there for the kids.”
Football is a way of life for the 6-foot-5, 325-pound Sciullo, who plans to lend his expertise to the Hampton gridders.
“I’m ready to continue handing out life lessons through football,” he said. ”I’m ready to continue to encourage kids to be respectful of everyone and to treat each other with dignity. I’m ready to continue to teach unity to our players and coaches, and I’m ready to have these kids work hard on and off the field and in the classroom.
“We are teaching the leaders of tomorrow; our coaches take that seriously.”
Hampton athletic director Bill Cardone believes Sciullo will sustain the recent success the Talbots have undergone on the gridiron.
“I am excited for Steve to lead our football program,” Cardone said. “We had one of our most successful seasons in Hampton history, and we are confident Steve will continue to have high expectations of our football players and program. Steve has been involved with our program in numerous capacities, and we expect the head coach transition to be successful.
“Steve has experience as a head coach as well as a collegiate and professional football player. Steve works at the high school, which gives him the ability to interact with our student-athletes and our student body on a daily basis. He continues to encourage and hold all of our students to high standards. Having Steve in the building also provides networking opportunities for athletes interested in playing at the next level.”
Sciullo competed in high school at Shaler. After graduating in 1998, he started a then-record 52 consecutive games at Marshall and is perhaps best known as one of the two linemen who carried injured quarterback Bryan Leftwich down the field in a game against Akron.
“Another highlight in college was when we defeated Miami of Ohio with Big Ben as quarterback and we did not have Byron Leftwich (who was injured),” Sciullo said. “It was an awesome game that we won at the end.
“I had some cool things happen in my career. We finished as the No. 10 team in the country in 1999, and I was lucky to play with some awesome quarterbacks, first-round picks Chad Pennington and Byron Leftwich, then with Peyton Manning and Donovan McNabb in the pros.”
In a nutshell, Sciullo started two years in high school, did not make all-conference in either season, played in an FBS program in college where he started four years, was named all-conference in college twice, and was an NFL Draft pick.
“It’s a great story,” Sciullo said. “No one expected any of that from me.”
Sciullo was inducted into the Shaler and Marshall Athletics halls of fame following his playing career. He became interested in coaching midway through his final season of college football.
But an NFL career beckoned.
Sciullo was selected by the Indianapolis Colts in the fourth round of the 2003 NFL Draft and started 13 games as a rookie. Despite earning Pro Football Weekly all-rookie honors, Sciullo failed to make the cut at training camp in 2004.
The Philadelphia Eagles signed Sciullo four days before the ‘04 season opener, and he went on to start five times and participate in Super Bowl XXXIX. He retired as a member of the Carolina Panthers in 2007.
Sciullo began working in the Hampton Township School District in 2009, teaching at the middle school and high school buildings.
He became head coach at neighboring Deer Lakes in 2014, leading the Lancers to one playoff appearance in four seasons. He resigned in 2018 when Hampton promoted him from a paraprofessional to a safety and security specialist. Sciullo also landed an assistant coaching job.
“This is my 13th year in the building, and I have coached at Hampton for nine of those years,” Sciullo said. “While at Deer Lakes, we started 4-0 for the first time in school history and made the playoffs for only the second time in school history.”
In 2015, Sciullo was lauded as the High School Football Coach of the Week by the Steelers.
After serving five years as Hampton’s junior varsity and offensive line coach, Sciullo was the Talbots’ offensive coordinator the past four seasons.
He has said that his coaching style is a hybrid of Marshall football, former Colts coach Tony Dungy and former Eagles and current Kansas City coach Andy Reid.
“My basic coaching philosophy is to get our players to play fast by teaching our schemes relentlessly,” Sciullo said, “and to get our players to play with a relentless energy and passion.”
DeMatteo stepped down as coach at Hampton to spend time with his family and hopes to watch his son, Matt, compete in college.
Matt DeMatteo, a senior all-conference quarterback/defensive back, is a multi-sport standout, earning three varsity letters in football, basketball and track. He was selected for the Big 33 Football Classic all-star game March 1.
Hampton racked up 409 points in 12 games last season, averaging 34.1 ppg while allowing 13.8 ppg. The Talbots scored 40 or more six times.
As offensive coordinator, Sciullo worked closely with the Talbots’ two starting quarterbacks, DeMatteo and Joey Mayer.
“I’m really excited and happy for (Sciullo),” Matt said. “He’s a great guy and all the kids love him. He works well and he’s very supportive of others. And, of course, he is very knowledgeable of the game of football. This is a great opportunity for him.”
The cupboard hasn’t been left empty for next season for Sciullo and the Talbots.
Nine Hampton gridders were named first-team All-Greater Allegheny in voting by league coaches, the most of any team in the conference.
Running back Christian Liberto, wide receiver Benny Haselrig, tackles John Morris and Logan Rutledge and tight end Mike Witherup represented the Talbots on offense.
On defense, end Logan Schwartz, inside linebacker Jayden Resch and defensive backs DeMatteo and Mayer were first-team picks.
Running back Brock Borgo, guard Charlie Schuit and defensive lineman Keegan Berzonski were named second team all-conference, while center Kole Reiser, running back Jacob Premick and linebacker Bobby Oliver landed honorable mention status.
All of Hampton’s all-conference selections are seniors except for Haselrig and Mayer, both juniors, and Borgo, a sophomore.
The Talbots joined Steel Valley and Penn-Trafford as the only WPIAL schools with multiple 1,000-yard rushers, as Morris and Rutledge book-ended an offensive line that helped open holes for Liberto (1,174 yards, 16 TDs) and Borgo (1,085 yards, 17 TDs).
“Expectations are high,” Sciullo said. “We lost a lot of impact players; we have several impact players returning, as well. Benny Haselrig, Joey Mayer and Brock Borgo form our nucleus. All three are returning all-conference players.”
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