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High school notebook: Nola's move to Gateway among many coaching changes Monday

| Monday, Feb. 17, 2014, 9:54 p.m.
Ronald Vezzani Jr. | For the Daily News
Clairton coach Tom Nola watches over practice Monday, Aug. 12, 2013. Nola reportedly is expected to take the coaching job at Gateway this week.
Bill Shirley | For The Valley News Dispatch
Deer Lakes coach T.J. Wiley at practice Thursday at Deer Lakes High School, August 15, 2013.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Norwin coach Art Tragesser coaches during the Westmoreland County Coaches Association 7 on 7 football tournament at Franklin Regional High School on July 18, 2013, in Murrysville.
Clairton's head coach Tom Nola hoists the trophy with his jubilant players as they celebrate their state record 60th win in a row and championship win over Sto-Rox at Heinz Field during the WPIAL Class A Football championship game on Friday November 23, 2012. Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review

The man who led the Clairton football team into national prominence is leaving Class A for one of the WPIAL's glamour jobs.

Sources confirmed to the Tribune-Review on Monday that Tom Nola has been offered the head football coaching job at Gateway and that he intends to formally accept the offer at Wednesday's school board meeting.

Nola's run at Clairton will go down as one of the most successful in PIAA and WPIAL history.

He led Clairton to a 141-22 record, starting in 2002. During his 12 seasons, Nola led the Bears to six WPIAL championships and four straight PIAA championships. They played at Heinz Field seven times, going 6-1 in WPIAL title games.

Nola's playoff record was 48-7.

Clairton won 66 consecutive games from 2009 through 2013, with its streak ending in Week 4 last season against Monessen.

Under Nola, Clairton reached the postseason in 11 of 12 seasons and produced dozens of Division I players, notably Pitt wide receiver Tyler Boyd.

Nola, a McKeesport graduate, previously was the head coach at Serra Catholic before taking the Clairton job.

Wiley headed back to Northgate

The football coaching career of T.J. Wiley continues to wind in strange ways.

On Monday night, Northgate approved Wiley as its new coach.

Wiley replaces Brandon LeDonne, who replaced Wiley in 2013 after Wiley, the Flames' coach in 2011 and 2012, left to lead Deer Lakes.

Wiley, who went 0-9 with the Lancers this past fall, headed to Deer Lakes primarily because the district was closer to his Allison Park home. He continued to care about the Northgate program, though, and considered the Flames' coaching vacancy an opportunity he couldn't pass up.

“I never thought the Northgate thing was going to come about again,” Wiley said. “I didn't apply anywhere else. It was only Northgate. I wasn't sniffing around.”

Wiley, whose head coaching career started with a one-season stint at Penn-Trafford and continued with a 10-9 record at Northgate, cited a frustrating hour-plus commute from his job in Robinson Township to West Deer as one reason to leave Deer Lakes and return to the Flames.

“I wasn't there enough, and I wasn't feeling a part of it,” Wiley said of Deer Lakes. “Even during football season, I was getting there as practice was getting underway. … I just felt like I was doing a disservice by not being around. They deserve somebody that can be there and put in the time.”

On Monday night, Deer Lakes voted to open the football coach position, a necessary measure because Wiley never resigned there.

Norwin coach resigns

The Norwin School Board voted 7-2 Monday night to accept the resignation of Art Tragesser, who spent the past four seasons as the Knights' football coach.

Tragesser compiled a record of 9-28 in four seasons with Norwin, including 2-7 in 2013. He led the Knights to the WPIAL Class AAAA playoffs in his first season in 2010. He previously coached at Penn-Trafford, where he led the Warriors to an 83-52 record from 1996-2008.

“I would just like to express my appreciation for the chance to have a job coaching here at Norwin,” Tragesser said. “I got a chance to work with some great people on the coaching staff, the faculty, the administration, the school board and kids. I was very appreciative of that opportunity. I have a lot of really good memories of being here at Norwin.”

The Norwin School Board voted last month to bring Tragesser back for the 2014 season. About 40 parents attended last week's board meeting to express displeasure with the board's decision to bring Tragesser's back, which the board reaffirmed last week.

“I don't want to be a wedge,” Tragesser said. “I don't want to be a hindrance to the Norwin football program moving forward. I think it will move forward here in the future and become a solid program for years to come. Obviously, I'd just be a block, a hindrance to kids achieving that, and I did not want that to happen. It's better off I step aside.”

In addition to Norwin, Ambridge, Belle Vernon and Latrobe also have coaching vacancies.

Latrobe's school board meets Tuesday, Ambridge meets Wednesday, and Belle Vernon members will meet Monday.

So far this offseason, Butler (Rob Densmore), Derry (Jim Sweeney), Keystone Oaks (Greg Perry), Riverview (Jason Cappa), Seton-La Salle (Damon Rosol) and Valley (Muzzy Colosimo) have hired football coaches.

WPIAL board of control

The WPIAL board of control will meet Tuesday to approve boys and girls basketball alignments for the next two-year cycle.

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