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Kiski Area hires Heavner as new football coach

Dave Heavner, who sports WPIAL and PIAA championships on his resume as a defensive coordinator, returned to the head coaching ranks when he was hired to lead the Class AAAA Kiski Area program Wednesday night.

Kiski Area School Board approved Heavner by an 8-0 vote. He received a one-year contract for $9,474.

Heavner, 40, of Sarver, helped guide Class AAA Franklin Regional to a state title in 2005. Before Kiski Area, his only head coaching stop was at Class AA Burrell in 2006-07, when the Bucs compiled an 8-10 record and missed the WPIAL playoffs in both seasons.

Kiski Area, which was a WPIAL power in the 1960s and '70s, has struggled for much of the past two decades and earned its last playoff win in 1990. The Cavaliers finished 1-8 this past year under Troy Wilson, whose position was opened after three seasons.

"I look forward to a challenge," Heavner said. "Kiski is a great community and great school district. They have great athletic facilities. I think they have the opportunity to do something special. I'll work as hard as I can to make Kiski Area succeed."

Heavner, who has a doctorate in education, is a history teacher at Gateway High School.

Kiski Area athletic director Ryan Berberich said the district received 28 applications for the position.

"He had a good resume, with WPIAL and state championships," Berberich said. "He also has a doctorate in education. He'll make a good impression with our student-athletes. What better role model could they have to look up to?"

Heavner was a standout fullback and linebacker at Valley before graduating in 1989. He went on to play at Division II Lock Haven University.

He started his coaching career as an assistant at his alma mater, Valley, in 1993. He's also been an assistant at Burrell, Butler, Fox Chapel, Gateway and Highlands.

In 1995 when Burrell won the WPIAL Class AA title, Heavner served as varsity scout for the Bucs under coach Tom Henderson. Heavner spent the past two seasons as a defensive assistant at Highlands.

Heavner said his first task is putting together a coaching staff. He hopes to have one in place by mid-February.

He added that he wants to create a strong bond throughout the school district in football, from the varsity to the youth levels. He plans to meet with his varsity players next week and the younger players and boosters soon after. Focusing on weightlifting and conditioning will be the next step.

"I want to start the offseason program as soon as possible and preparing our bodies for the upcoming season," Heavner said.

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