St. Bart's football team wins third straight diocese title
Varsity football coach Pete Porco said he strives to create a very family-oriented atmosphere among his players at the St. Bartholomew School.
Being that the school draws players not just from St. Bart's, but also from other area Catholic schools that do not have enough players to field full seventh- and eighth-grade football teams, getting everyone on the same page is an absolute necessity.
To ask Porco, though, the team is so close-knit that he doesn't even know which players are from Penn Hills, Forest Hills or somewhere else: he only knows that they've come together to capture their third straight Diocese of Pittsburgh Football Championship and strung together a dominant 33-2 record over the past three seasons.
“It's been rewarding,” Porco said. “It comes back to the kids — they provide that reward through their accomplishments. It's a sport that I love, but it all falls back on the kids.”
One of those kids is eighth-grader, 6-foot-1 tailback and middle linebacker David Adams Jr., easily among the Diocese League's top players. Adams scored 33 touchdowns for the Bruins in 11 games this year, and scored six of the team's seven post-season touchdowns in its 2012 championship run.
Porco said Adams, 14, embodies a lot of the qualities that characterize the team and its players.
“He has a solid character and is a true sportsman, and kids on the team are inspired to follow that tone,” Porco said. “When you have a kid who (represents) all that, it really does set the tone, and there's 21 other kids who buy into that.”
Adams said he's grateful to his coaches and teammates.
“It's been great playing with all my friends, and we've gotten so much closer,” Adams said.
Porco also credited his coaching staff — Gary Pietropola, Paul Palermo, J.D. Macioce and Jay Macioce — who he said was a great help: this season was Porco's seventh as a coach, but his first as varsity head coach.
“You need people who genuinely care to put in the time, see the bigger picture and use the sport as a tool, and all the coaches and parents do that,” he said.
“I coached this year, but the guys who coached before me built it; they allowed me to step in and carry it on.”
History is important in St. Bart's football, Porco said, and former players acknowledge it through their current work with the team.
“We have a saying: ‘Once a Bruin, always a Bruin,' and the volunteers and parents bear that out, as well as former players who come back to help with training camps,” Porco said.
Adams' father, David Sr., said he is continually impressed at the dedication of the Bruins coaching staff.
“Most of the coaches do not even have a child in the program,” he said. “At some point they all may have, but a lot of them have continued to put five and six days a week in coaching kids.
“That is a big commitment and I have a lot of respect for the time they all put into it.”
David Adams Sr. said Porco and his coaching staff emphasize the “family atmosphere” with players.
“They're not only good football coaches, but they also stress for these kids to be good and respectful young men and also stress the importance of school work,” he said.
“I think it's a combination of the organization and the family atmosphere, and the kids buy into that,” he said. “They have determination and intelligence and all the things that go into being a strong young man, and I think you can see that in the performance on the field.”
Adams Jr. put it succinctly.
“I just loved playing on this team and I'm going to miss it a lot,” he said.
Patrick Varine is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7845 or firstname.lastname@example.org.