Two Veteran WPIAL Quad A Football Coaches Step Down

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013 | 1:19 PM


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On a day when the President was inaugurated into office, two high-profile football coaches said goodbye to their days as a high school football coach.

During the day Monday, Jack McCurry, one of the winningest coaches in the history of the WPIAL, stepped down as North Hills’ coach after 35 seasons. McCurry called his decision a “semi retirement” because he’s not totally sure he won’t coach again in some capacity.

Also Monday, it was learned Terry Smith has coached his last game at Gateway High School. Smith has agreed to become the receivers coach at Temple University.

McCurry is one of the deans of WPIAL football. He is third on the all-time WPIAL list of victories with a record of 281-108-9. He won four WPIAL titles, including one co-championship. He also won a PIAA championship in 1993.

“I’ve been debating it since the season ended,” McCurry said. “It’s just a difficult decision. It’s not an easy thing to do. There were no outside influences or anything like that at all. You work with people a lot of years, and in my situation a lot of my coaches played for me. It’s tough to pull that trigger.”

McCurry’s 1987 team is considered one of the greatest in WPIAL history. It finished ranked No. 1 in the country by USA Today. The ’87 team gave up only 20 points all season and the first-team defense did not allow a single point.

McCurry coached a number of top players, including LaVar Arrington, a 1997 graduate who was Parade magazine’s national player of the year after the 1996 season. McCurry calls Arrington the best player he coached.

McCurry is 63 years old. During his tenure at North Hills, he also taught math and then became North Hills’ principal before retiring from the school district. He and his wife, Beth, have two children. Danny McCurry played football at Pine-Richland.

“It’s different coaching now than it was 25 or 30 years ago,” McCurry said. “I wouldn’t say it’s harder. It’s just different.”

As for Smith, he walks away from Gateway after 11 seasons as coach. He also was the school’s athletic director.

Smith was extremely successful, making the WPIAL playoffs all 11 seasons as coach at his alma mater. He won seven conference titles and made the WPIAL championship game four times. He lost each time, though. His record was 101-30 (.770 winning percentage).
Smith’s departure ends a stormy saga between Smith and the Gateway school board. Some on the school board wanted him out as coach.

Last summer, the board made Smith’s athletic director position part time and slashed his pay in half. The board also passed a resolution that, as of Dec. 31, a Gateway administrator also cannot have a supplemental contract. That meant Smith couldn’t hold jobs as coach and athletic director. He had to pick between the two.

The board extended the deadline on the resolution to June 30 of this year, but Smith got out anyway.

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