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New coach begins rebuilding at Serra Catholic

| Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013, 8:55 p.m.

Serra Catholic led the WPIAL in quite a few statistical categories in 2012.

The problem is they weren't the categories any team would like to lead.

Serra Catholic was one of seven winless teams in the WPIAL, allowed the most points (436) and surrendered at least 41 points in all nine losses. Clairton played the final three quarters of a 41-0 victory over the Eagles with a running clock.

Numbers like that might dissuade someone from taking on the rebuilding project. But the Eagles' new coach already is attempting to change the mentality of a program that has gone from PIAA Class A finalist in 2007 to the WPIAL basement in just five years.

“I was looking at the whole, overall program, and obviously they've won there before, so it's not like taking over a program that's 0-9 or 1-9 for the last 10 years,” first-year Serra Catholic coach Tony St. Angelo said. “I'm taking over something that I think I can win at, and if you do things properly, you're going to be on the winning end of it instead of the losing end of it.”

St. Angelo comes to Serra Catholic from Elizabeth Forward where, as an assistant, he helped the Warriors end a seven-year postseason drought in 2012.

He will look to junior Zac Quattrone, who finished 2012 with seven touchdowns, to be the pacesetter under center.

Then again, like most coaches who take over a program like this, St. Angelo is looking to future. Serra Catholic is loaded with juniors — including running back Hamdan Wyatt — and in what amounts to something of a transition year, the Eagles will focus on improvement this season.

“We have 13 juniors, which for single-A is pretty good, and ... most of them are going to be our starting core on both sides of the ball,” St. Angelo said. “That means two years of having those guys compete and we're going to be big. We only have two or three seniors on the offensive side of the ball and six on the team.”

Considering how things went in 2012, the biggest challenge facing the new coaching staff could have been the players buying into the system. So far, there seems to be a belief throughout the team that this is the start of a new era.

“I think they've bought in extremely well because we were getting 25 or 26 kids at every workout, and for the most part, the kids were there unless they were on vacation,” St. Angelo said. “They're very coachable, and they've picked up on our system very quickly.”

Still, turning around a team in a conference with top-flight programs like Clairton, Monessen and Bishop Canevin is no easy task. But having an optimistic view from the top will go a long way toward keeping the Eagles on the right track.

“I looked at the history of the program,” St. Angelo said. “They win at every other sport that they're in, so there's no reason they can't win at football.”

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