Riverview coach Massack steps down

Bill West
| Monday, Nov. 18, 2013, 9:06 p.m.

Just after the conclusion of Riverview's football season, coach Todd Massack made the choice to prioritize his program's future over his pride.

After seven seasons in charge, Massack handed in his letter of resignation. The Riverview school board accepted it Monday night.

Massack, a 1984 Riverview graduate and the fourth coach in team history, had 20-46 career record with the Raiders.

“It was a very tough decision because I love Riverview football, and I love football overall,” said Massack, who coached Fox Chapel from 2001-04 and then served as defensive coordinator at Riverview for two seasons before succeeding Joe Rossi in 2007. “I'm not done coaching football, but I feel the program needs to go in a new direction and new leadership.”

This year, Riverview finished 1-8, its worst record under Massack. The Raiders had their best season under Massack in 2010 when they finished 6-4.

“The program is my responsibility, and unfortunately, programs are evaluated on wins and losses and not on how you help players become young men and leaders,” Massack said. “Based on wins and losses, I felt like the program needed new leadership. We weren't going in the right direction, and as the leader, I had to fall on the sword.”

Appreciative of Massack's ability to help players become better individuals, athletic director Bob Kariotis tried to convince the coach to reconsider when Massack first turned in his resignation letter a few days after a Week 9 loss to Springdale.

“It wasn't a pleasant thing for me, and I am very sorry to see him go,” Kariotis said. “It just took a toll on him.

“I told Todd this: If I had a son playing, Todd is who I'd want coaching him. Every boy that played for Todd went away a better man and better person. Todd was always willing to go the extra mile. Unfortunately, he couldn't go on the field and play the game.”

Massack identified Riverview's 24-23 win over Rochester in 2007 as his favorite game memory — Rochester was a WPIAL finalist in 2006 and reached the quarterfinals in 2007.

But what Massack valued most were the bonds he developed with Riverview's players, assistants and former coaches, some of whom doubled as family members. He steered a program that his grandfather, Elmer Gross, helped establish — Gross coached Oakmont, one of Riverview's precursor schools, from 1948-60. He also supervised the career of one son, Nick, a 2012 graduate, and he shared three seasons with another, Jacob, who is a junior. Massack has another son currently in seventh grade.

“For selfish reasons, I could've stuck around and been the head coach for another year,” he said. “But I wanted what's best for the program.”

Kariotis said he hopes to find a replacement who matches Massack's passion for educating and maturing players. A program turnaround, though desired, cannot come at the expense of poor coaching character.

“You can't judge a coach by his wins and losses sometimes,” Kariotis said. “You have to look at the big picture.”

Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at wwest@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BWest_Trib.

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