WPIAL football position-by-position breakdown: Scouting the new coaches
Thursday, August 22, 2019 | 5:06 PM
The South Hills has some new faces this fall.
Gone from the sidelines are two longtime coaches, Upper St. Clair’s Jim Render and Bethel Park’s Jeff Metheny. Both resigned this past winter, along with Mt. Lebanon’s Mike Melnyk, who led the Blue Devils for seven seasons.
Taking their place are two first-time head coaches, Mike Junko and Brian DeLallo, and a veteran in Bob Palko who owns more WPIAL football titles than anyone in history. Also add in Mike Zmijanac at Seton LaSalle, and that’s another newcomer to South Hills football this fall.
In all, 25 WPIAL and City League schools changed coaches.
The list includes Ambridge’s Don Phillips, Bentworth’s J.J. Knabb, Bishop Canevin’s T.J. Wiley, California’s Ed Woods, Carlynton’s Rich Piccinini, Carrick’s Brian Nolte, Ellwood City’s Joe Lamenza, Frazier’s Greg Boggs, Freedom’s Greg Toney, Greensburg Central Catholic’s Bret Colbert, Hopewell’s Matt Weiss, Knoch’s Brandon Mowry, Laurel Highlands’ Rich Kolesar, Ringgold’s Darwin Manges, Steel Valley’s Ray Braszo, Summit Academy’s Joseph Marek, West Allegheny’s Chris Lucas, Western Beaver’s Derek Moye, Westinghouse’s Donta Green, West Greene’s Brian Hanson and West Mifflin’s Rod Steele.
Here are the five biggest coaching changes this season.
1. Bob Palko
Palko resigned after 24 years as West Allegheny’s coach at the end of last season, but he didn’t stay away from the WPIAL long. Mt. Lebanon hired him in February to replace Melnyk. Palko won a record eight WPIAL titles at West A. His teams won the WPIAL in 1997, 1999-2001, ’09, ’12, ’13 and ’16, along with a state title in 2001 with son Tyler at quarterback. His career record is 217-73.
2. Mike Junko
Upper St. Clair
USC has a new football coach for the first time in four decades. Junko was promoted in January to replace Render, who retired as the winningest coach in WPIAL history. Render went 406-141-6 in 49 seasons overall including the past 40 at Upper St. Clair, where he won five WPIAL titles and two state championships. Junko’s father is longtime Pitt assistant Bob Junko.
3. Rod Steele
Steele went 74-28 in nine seasons at Steel Valley with two WPIAL titles (2018, ’16) and a PIAA title (2016). He left the defending WPIAL Class 2A champion Ironmen in January to take over West Mifflin, a Class 4A school right next door. Steele replaced Braszo. Essentially the two coaches switched jobs. Braszo later was hired as Steel Valley’s coach.
4. Brian DeLallo
DeLallo was promoted in March to replace Metheny, who retired after 25 seasons as Bethel Park’s coach. Metheny went 164-104 at Bethel with a WPIAL title in 2008. DeLallo has worked as a Black Hawks assistant for 13 years divided over two stints, but he also spent time at Upper St. Clair and Montour.
5. Mike Zmijanac
Zmijanac is starting over again. He resigned from Ringgold last November after one winless season there, but a month later found a job much closer to his Mt. Lebanon home. Zmijanac went 237-36 with six WPIAL titles and one state championship in 21 seasons at Aliquippa.
ONE TO WATCH
Western Beaver has the most well-known first-year coach in the WPIAL this season. Moye, a former Rochester and Penn State football star, spent three seasons in the NFL and caught a touchdown for the Steelers. His coaching career started just last fall as a first-year assistant at Aliquippa. Western Beaver hired him in January to replace Matt Gray after 18 seasons.
Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .