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Former coach promotes game overseas

| Wednesday, April 23, 2014, 12:16 a.m.

Former Leechburg coach and Highlands student-athlete Ed Jenkins stepped down as Charleroi football coach Monday.

But the move won't affect the trip for WPIAL football players to Italy next year that will be facilitated by Jenkins.

Jenkins resigned at Charleroi due to health reasons after compiling a 4-14 mark over two seasons.

The 1995 Highlands graduate said he was diagnosed was cardiomyopathy two years ago, and his condition hasn't improved. Jenkins, 38, was told by his doctor that he had the heart of a 60-year-old.

The heart condition won't impact the planned trip to Italy in June, 2015.

Jenkins has spent the last few months organizing the trip to promote American football in Italy with WPIAL football players.

“Our goal is to have a 30-man roster,” Jenkins said. “We're looking for some young men to be ambassadors for football.”

The trip will also include some touring of the Italian countryside and a visit to a UPMC hospital there.

The team will play an Under-19 Italian team.

Scheduled to help Jenkins are two coaches with local ties. Former Leechburg coach Mark Adams, now at Southmoreland, also will be on hand and former Riverview coach Joe Rossi, a two-time WPIAL champion at South Fayette, also has indicated interest.

Serving as head coach will be Casey Phillips, offensive coordinator at Brentwood. Also helping out will be Moon assistant Ken Blocker.

Jenkins stressed that he isn't necessarily searching for five-star recruits or elite athletes to head overseas.

“We're not looking at a WPIAL top 50 or Division I prospects,” Jenkins said. “We want good kids looking for a great experience.”

Players must be 2014 seniors who will have used up their high school eligibility and graduate in 2015.

Jenkins indicated that the group won't have one major fundraiser. Instead, each prospective athlete will have his or his own family's creative way of fundraising.

Any football player seeking more information about the goodwill trip to Italy should contact Jenkins by phone at 724-351-0069.

Kenkins coached American football in Italy in the early 2000s.

Meanwhile, Charleroi school officials are looking for a new football coach. Jenkins and others think the Cougars are ready to break into playoff contention, particularly with perennial contenders Jeannette, Greensburg Central Catholic and Yough leaving the Interstate Conference.

Here's hoping that Jenkins finds the road back to good health soon.

Big games on tap

While Friday's thrice-postponed Plum at Deer Lakes softball game is a nonsection encounter, the result could have an effect on playoff seedings.

The Mustangs and the Lancers have been among the top WPIAL teams all season long.

Deer Lakes has been No. 1 in the Trib Total Media Class AA poll since the start of the season while Plum is No. 3 in this week's Class AAAA poll.

The game won't have any effect on the respective section standings, but no one should be surprised if the WPIAL Softball Steering Committee uses the result as a gauge for how the playoffs brackets are structured.

Let's give credit to the Plum and Deer Lakes athletic departments for keeping this game on the front burner, despite three postponements.

Monday, Monday

Next Monday could be a big day in local baseball.

Three key games are on the slate as Plum will host Central Catholic in a key Section 3-AAAA contest.

Deer Lakes is still in the hunt for its fourth straight section title when the Lancers visit Ford City and Riverview, No. 4 in this week's Trib Total Media Class A poll and No. 11 in a statewide poll, plays North Catholic at Butler's Pullman Park.

All that is weather permitting, of course.

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