Serra Catholic football coach Jamie Eckels resigns after 3 seasons

Serra Catholic coach Jamie Eckel.
Serra Catholic coach Jamie Eckel.
Photo by Ron Vezzani | For The Daily News
| Friday, Jan. 11, 2013, 6:58 p.m.

Serra Catholic is in the market for a new football coach.

Jamie Eckels turned in his letter of resignation to athletic director Bill Cleary Friday, thus ending an unsuccessful three-year stint where the Eagles won only five games.

“I would like to thank Jamie and his staff for their work here at Serra,” Cleary said. “This was a tough rebuilding year for us.”

Eckels would only say that he resigned for “personal reasons.”

Serra went 0-9 and was outscored by more than 40 points per game. At the end of the season, the Eagles had barely enough players to field a team.

Still, Cleary was adamant that administration isn't considering disbanding a football program that is only five years removed from a WPIAL Class A title and a state championship game appearance.

“I cannot emphasize enough that we are not disbanding football,” Cleary said. “We had a tough year in a tough conference. This happens to a lot of schools.”

Serra has lost 11 consecutive games and won only 18 since losing to Steelton-Highspire in the 2007 Class A state championship game.

As for Eckels, low numbers have plagued his program since taking over for Rich Bowen following the 2009 season.

Serra went 5-23 in Eckels' three years, including a 5-18 conference record. Four of Serra's five wins over the past three years came against Bentworth and Avella.

“It was a tough year, sure,” Cleary said. “Those things happen. We will start the search for his replacement immediately.”

Eckels, a 1973 Serra grad, spent most of his career as an assistant coach, most notably at McKeesport. Eckels was the offensive coordinator and was credited in bringing the flexbone offense to McKeesport in the early 1990s.

Eckels did have one other coaching stint from 1987-91 with Cameron County. Cameron County won five games in five years before Eckels arrived and he finished his four years with a 17-19-1 slate. He left Cameron County to join McKeesport's staff in 1991 and stayed for 19 seasons.

In other coaching news, McKeesport will conduct second interviews Saturday for its vacant head coaching job that came open when Jim Ward resigned last month.

Clairton defensive coordinator Wayne Wade, Baldwin coach Jim Wehner and former McKeesport coach George Smith are among the candidates to replace Ward. McKeesport expects to hire a coach by the end of the month.

Smith coached at McKeesport for 28 years before unexpectedly resigning two years ago after philosophical differences with the administration. Smith won 197 games, two WPIAL titles and two state titles with the Tigers.

Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @MarkKaboly_Trib.

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