Pergola back at Ringgold for 'long haul'
Phil Pergola was a happy guy coaching at California, where he spent nine years, took the Trojans to the WPIAL playoffs on a regular basis and reached the WPIAL title game in 2007.
But the call of “home” was too much for him.
“It bothered me to see what was going on at Ringgold,” he said.
And so here he is getting ready for his second stint as the boys' basketball coach at the school where he won a state championship.
“We followed them and we just thought we could turn the program around,” Pergola said in explaining why he is back at Ringgold coaching the school he once guided for 18 seasons.
And now that he is back, Pergola is warning that rebuilding the Rams is going to be a “long haul.”
“We've been making progress, but it's been a while since we had to take a team that knows nothing about the way we do things,” Pergola said. “I told the kids they are like a canvas and there are no numbers on it. We don't know what color to paint it.”
Pergola takes over a program that went a combined 8-35 the last two seasons.
The team he takes over is very young, with only three seniors on the roster and one returning starter in senior Dayhore Majors.
“I don't even know who will be starting for us yet,” Pergola said with a laugh. “I've been using about eight or nine kids.”
Joining Majors in the mix for the Rams are sophomores Dwight Moore, David Santina and Daylen Penn, junior Shakal Brooks, seniors Noah Brown and Zack Lloyd and freshmen George Martin, Dakota Browning and Daniel Martinelli.
The size will come from Browning (6-5), Martin (6-4) and Brooks (6-3).
“Dayshore will be our shooting guard and right now Moore is our point guard,” Pergola said. “Santina, Martin and Brooks have been doing pretty well.”
Pergola said the Rams will be young and inexperienced, and any progress will have to come from the young players.
“Once our younger kids mature and get older, we should have a pretty good team down the road,” he said.
“But it is going to be a long haul for us and I hope our fans realize it,” he said. “When we came back, we were really well accepted by the fans. I've been telling them I hope they still feel that way at the end of February.”
Pergola said he will start his rebuilding process around the defense, but added that the spacious Ringgold floor will be a detriment to that at the start.
“I would think our defensive stats on the road will be better than they will be at home,” he said.
Looking at Section 4 AAA, Pergola said the competition will be stiff.
“I know that Elizabeth Forward is loaded and Thomas Jefferson is the defending champ,” he said. “Steel Valley and West Mifflin have everybody back. And Belle Vernon should be up and coming.
“It's going to be tough, but we hope to be up to task.”
Ringgold opens the season Dec. 6 at Charleroi.
Jeff Oliver is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2666 or firstname.lastname@example.org.