Rosol returns to coach at alma mater Seton-La Salle

| Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

For Damon Rosol, being named head football coach at Seton-La Salle — his alma mater — has brought the once all-conference player full-circle in a way he hadn't imagined.

“When I was in high school I would have never of thought that I wanted to be a coach,” Rosol said. “I had a little bit of an unconventional path.”

As a walk-on offensive lineman at Pitt in the mid-90s, Rosol would work out at Seton-La Salle during the summer when current Montour coach Lou Cerro was the Rebels' head man.

“Cerro said to me, ‘If things don't work out with playing this year, I have some spots available. I'm looking for some young coaches,'” Rosol said. “He said, ‘I think you'll be good with it. You seem to be working well with the kids now.'”

Cerro and Rosol's relationship started when Rosol was a player and Cerro was his position coach, and one instance prior to Rosol's senior year sticks out for Cerro to this day.

“We spent a lot of time together in the summer since I was coaching the O-line. He was thinking about quitting,” Cerro said. “I went down to talk to him. We had a heart to heart, and we've been together ever since. It could have went in a different direction. He stuck it out and had a great senior year.

“He didn't give up a sack his senior year as an offensive lineman, and made all-conference.”

After starting as a scout in 1998, Rosol has been part of Cerro's staff for 17 years at both Seton-La Salle and Montour.

Rosol experienced success as an offensive coordinator at Montour, and witnessed first-hand how to build a successful program.

As an offensive assistant at Seton-La Salle under Cerro, Rosol worked closely with offensive genius Greg Perry — who resigned as Seton's head coach after nine years and has since been named head coach at Keystone Oaks — and helped the Rebels win WPIAL titles in 2002 and 2004.

When Cerro was offered the Montour job before the 2005 season, he decided to hand the offensive reigns to Rosol.

“When we came to Montour all he needed was a chance,” Cerro said. “He got it, and ran with it. Failure wasn't an option for him.”

Taking over a program on the decline when they arrived, Cerro and Rosol guided the Spartans to three WPIAL Class AAA finals appearances, and won a WPIAL championship in 2011.

“We went there and inherited a program that obviously had a lot of struggles and from the first day we broke (the huddle) on ‘Triple A champs,'” Rosol said. “The kids were kind of looking at us like, ‘OK, that's kind of crazy.' It's that attitude. No team rises to low expectations.”

It's that type of message Rosol plans to get across the first time he meets with his Rebels' squad.

“At Seton-La Salle we want to win the state championship,” Rosol said. “The kids got to know we're raising the bar. It's not going to be easy. We got to get to work ASAP. That's always going to be our goal at Seton-La Salle.”

Key offensive players such as quarterback Tyler Perone and wide receiver Danzel McKinley-Lewis will return to a team that went 8-3 overall last season in the always competitive Century Conference.

“The expectations are going to be out there,” Rosol said. “It's not a rebuilding program it's a reloading program.”

Justin Criado is a freelance writer.

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