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Morgan excited for coaching opportunity at alma mater

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Plum Advance Leader
Photo: Shane Rolin/gatewaygators.com Matt Morgan spent the past three high school football seasons as an assistant under Terry Smith at Gateway.
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Wednesday, March 6, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
 

Matt Morgan described the past week since being named the new head coach for the Plum varsity football team as pretty hectic, but the Plum graduate, former Pitt standout and NFL player said he is happy to be home with a chance to lead the Mustangs.

“It's been about gathering what these kids are about and what we have and what we need,” Morgan said.

“There are a lot of things to do, and it's been pretty busy, but I am excited to get started.”

Morgan takes over the reigns of the program from Frank Sacco, who served as the Plum head coach for four seasons after spending 15 years as a Mustangs assistant under Bill Rometo.

Sacco went 10-28 in four seasons as head coach, and Plum made the WPIAL playoffs in 2009 and 2010.

The Mustangs were 0-9 in 2012 as they navigated through a challenging Quad Central schedule.

The Plum School Board opened the position in December and accepted applications for the job.

The board voted, 8-0, to hire Morgan at last week's meeting.

Morgan, who works as a commercial sales representative for east-suburban based G&G Fitness, said there is a lot of talent returning from last year's varsity team as well as talent at the lower levels.

He added that there even is untapped talent in the school that hasn't previously been a part of the football program.

The Plum JV team went 5-4 in 2012, while the freshman squad finished with a 6-2 record.

“When I met with the players, I told them it's a clean slate,” Morgan said.

“With coaching at Gateway, I didn't get a chance to see them last year. We don't know them as much as they don't know us. The exciting thing is that the kids are really responding well. They are excited for the future of the program.”

Morgan said he and his coaching staff won't be able to develop a game plan or an identity until the team members can get outside for workouts in better weather and do football-type stuff and movements.

The coaching staff, he said, will include several coaching colleagues from his time at Gateway.

The Gators football program also is going through a transition this offseason after former head coach Terry Smith resigned to become the wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator at Temple University.

Morgan said he is happy to have Plum graduate Kyle Simmons on his staff this season.

Simmons, who played quarterback and defensive back for the Mustangs before continuing his football and educational pursuits at Lafayette College, served as a volunteer assistant last year.

Also, Morgan said Kevin Stark will return as the head coach of the Plum ninth grade team.

Morgan rose to stardom locally as a standout offensive and defensive lineman at Plum.

The 1999 Plum graduate was a four-year starter at Pitt, and he then he played three seasons in the NFL with the St. Louis Rams and Buffalo Bills.

He got his first taste of coaching high school football in 2008 with Penn Hills.

After two seasons as an assistant with the Indians, Morgan began a new journey as an assistant at Gateway and was with the Gators from 2010 to 2012.

“The last couple of years at Gateway, I learned a lot about the time management and scheduling approach that often is used in college and in the NFL,” Morgan said.

“Everything was precise, and we were maximizing our time on the field. That is what I experienced in college and in the pros, and I was able to learn how to translate that to the high school level. We kind of have that focus already.”

Plum will be back in the Quad Central in 2013 against conference foes Woodland Hills and Penn Hills, as well as Upper St. Clair, Bethel Park, Baldwin, Mt. Lebanon, Peters Township and Canon-McMillan.

The Mustangs will open at Bethel Park on Aug. 30 and close the regular season on Oct. 25 with a nonconference home game against Pine-Richland.

Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at mlove@tribweb.com.

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