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New South Fayette hockey coach looking to grow program

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Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

When you approach the South Fayette School District, you will be met by a sign listing accomplishments by various sports teams and athletes.

If first-year coach Frank Certo has his way, the hockey team eventually will be featured on that sign.

Certo was an assistant coach the past two seasons at South Fayette. He had previously been on the coaching staffs at Chartiers Valley, Gateway, Penn Hills and Upper St. Clair, not to mention various amateur clubs.

The experiences will be needed as the Lions enter a rebuilding year. The team returns senior Joe Testa, who scored 25 goals with 12 assists last season.

Outside of Testa, there are a lot of unknowns for the Lions as the team graduated three of its four top point producers. Sophomore Spencer Barber is expected to have an extended role, as is freshman Jordan Timmons.

On defense, Dimitri Marrese returns after scoring two goals with nine assists in 2012.

John Lipovich and Jacob Stack – both freshmen – will both see time on the ice.

Wesley Sprecher will skate in as the team's goalie. The team entered the season without an experienced goaltender and the senior was asked to fill the void after playing as a defender the past two seasons.

“He did it for the love of the game,” Certo said. “He showed his commitment. It is going to be something we will work our way through this season.”

South Fayette has struggled to find consistency in recent seasons. After finishing with 13 wins in 2010, the total dropped to five last season.

Certo said the team is in a transition period and is putting an emphasis on the developmental program, something the older players on this year's squad never had a chance to participate in.

“From sixth to ninth grade, we have as much talent as anywhere,” Certo said. “We will be able to make a run to be the top team in Class A in a few years. South Fayette is a young program with a bright future.”

While it isn't expecting to compete for a Penguins Cup, the coaching staff wants to establish pride in what it means to be a hockey player at South Fayette.

“We want to establish a model of what it means to be a varsity hockey player,” Certo said. “We want to start to set an example that makes a sixth-grader look up and say ‘I want to be on that team.'

“We want to set a work ethic and standard for South Fayette hockey.”

Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or 412-388-5813.

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