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Pine-Richland football coach Clair Altemus decides to retire

Chris Harlan
| Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012, 5:00 p.m.
Pine-Richland head coach Clair Altemus mug.   
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Christopher Horner
Pine-Richland head coach Clair Altemus mug. Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review

Pine-Richland's Clair Altemus has decided to retire as football coach, ending a 16-year run with the Rams that included a snowy state title game in 2003.

Altemus, 60, retired as athletic director last spring. This coaching retirement should give him more time to travel or spend with family, he said.

“I've been doing this for 38 years as a coach and eight years as a player,” Altemus said. “That's 46 years. That's better than three-fourths of my life. ... My life is full, and it's been good. My health is good. So, with all of those things combined, I thought it was time to move on.”

Altemus informed his assistant coaches Saturday and football players Monday. He had a 106-65 record at Pine-Richland, and his teams reached the WPIAL playoffs 11 times. His team's most successful season was 2003, when Pine-Richland won the WPIAL Class AAA title with Neil Walker as a star receiver. That season ended with a double-overtime loss to Manheim Central, 39-38, at snow-covered Hersheypark Stadium in a state championship game that ranks among the most memorable.

Pine-Richland also reached the WPIAL title game in 2002, losing to eventual state champion Hopewell. The Rams are 18-30 since joining Class AAAA in 2008 but made the playoffs twice. They were 4-5 this past season.

“I have no problems walking away from a program that I think is in good shape,” Altemus said.

Who replaces him remains undecided, but Altemus hopes his assistants are considered.

“I sincerely hope they will look internally, if for nothing more than a smooth transition for the kids,” Altemus said. “I'm sure the position is going to garner some serious interest from outside, maybe the collegiate world, ex-pros, who knows? But it will be great sitting in the stands next year watching somebody else.”

A potential candidate is offensive coordinator Eric Kasperowicz, who starred at quarterback and safety for North Hills in the early 1990s.

“That would be nice,” Altemus said. “Eric is one of the better young football minds coming up through the system. He's paid his dues, and he certainly has a great résumé from his playing career. Years playing and coaching under Jack McCurry doesn't hurt either.”

Board business

Vincentian Academy might have used ineligible athletes during the fall seasons, an issue the WPIAL board of control discussed at Monday's meeting. The WPIAL approved 23 “untimely” eligibility requests from the private school, executive director Tim O'Malley said, but would like Vincentian administrators to answer questions about the paperwork delay at January's board meeting.

“We've requested from them feedback in regard to which of those kids played something before their declaration of eligibility,” O'Malley said.

The problem could be related to an administration change; both the principal and athletic director are new since last summer, O'Malley said.

In other decisions:

• Leechburg was censured for allowing an unsanctioned team to participate in its boys basketball tournament Dec. 7-8. When an opponent dropped out of the four-team event, Leechburg added St. Gertrude, a CYO team. St. Gertrude lost to Leechburg, 53-51, and Winchester Thurston, 43-41. The WPIAL also was somewhat critical of Winchester Thurston for not researching its opponent, but the board did not admonish that program, O'Malley said.

• The board “found no basis” for claims made by senior Logan Holtzman's mother, Audra Coleman, that Holtzman had been recruited from McKeesport by coach Rodney Steele to play football at Steel Valley, said O'Malley.

Chris Harlan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at

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