Share This Page

New East Allegheny coach welcomes familiar foe

| Saturday, Aug. 18, 2012, 1:46 a.m.
East Allegheny head football coach Jason Ruscitto (right) conducts practice with his father Tony Ruscitto woking with a small group to the left. Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
East Allegheny's defensive lineman Gino DePaoli, Josh Demus and Terrance Johnson work at practice. Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News

East Allegheny won't officially hold its homecoming festivities until Oct. 12 when Freeport makes a visit to Churchman Stadium.

Unofficially, there will certainly be a reunion of sorts for first-year head coach Jason Ruscitto at 10 a.m. Saturday when the Wildcats host Sto-Rox in the team's first preseason scrimmage.

Ruscitto was the head coach at Sto-Rox from 2004-09 and left the school when his contract wasn't renewed after an 8-3 season that included a third-place finish in the Century Conference and an upset victory against Shady Side Academy in the opening round of the WPIAL Class AA playoffs.

“At least they're coming to our place,” Ruscitto said. “It's a long-standing scrimmage and should be a good scrimmage for both teams, that's for sure. But it's going to be good to see some of those players.”

Though Sto-Rox and East Allegheny have met in scrimmages in prior years, there might be a bit more tension than has been present previously. Ruscitto, though, is trying to downplay that as much as possible as he attempts to keep his team focused on what it has to do to prepare for the regular season opener in two weeks against Summit Academy.

“It doesn't matter to me because I'm an East Allegheny Wildcat now,” Ruscitto said. “I'm focused on our football team and getting ourselves better and working on things like our team chemistry because we're concentrating on the future and not the past.”

Ruscitto did come into a good situation for his first year at the school. Not only did East Allegheny qualify for the 2011 postseason out of the brutal Interstate Conference, the team brought back almost all of its starters and skill-position players.

With that in mind, the Wildcats have spent most of their time adjusting to a new coaching system and different terminology. It has also taken away the potential for training camp positional battles.

“If you look down our roster, we only have three juniors on our roster, but we have a large group of seniors that have experience,” Ruscitto said. “We went into camp knowing who had experience playing football and few of those battles really emerged because of the experience of our team.”

There are still a few questions to be answered of course, like how sophomore quarterback Kyle Whipple deals with coming into the season as a starter for the first time and how much talented skill-position players Shawn Adair and K.J. Marshall have improved in the offseason. The scrimmages will certainly go a long way toward demonstrating the Wildcats talent level.

But with the positions all but decided, the coaching staff, in addition to handling the base Xs and Os and conditioning at the team's camp at California (Pa.) University, tried to unify the players into a tight-knit group. Now that they have that week under their belt, though, the Wildcats will have to show the results on the field.

“We went to camp with the aspirations of coming together as a family, and we hope that we can continue that process,” Ruscitto said. “We just hope that we can put it together with a lot of team chemistry and camaraderie.”

Keith Barnes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at kbarnes@tribweb.com or 412-664-9161, ext. 1977.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.