High school roundup: Football coaching carousel complete

| Friday, May 23, 2014, 7:30 p.m.

It has been quite a busy offseason for high school football coaches looking for jobs in Western Pennsylvania.

With 22 positions open in the WPIAL and City League, hundreds of interviews were held during the past five-plus months.

This week, the final two open positions were filled at Charleroi (Donnie Militzer) and Shaler (Jon LeDonne).

Other districts that hired coaches this offseason include Ambridge (Dan Bradley), Belle Vernon (Matt Humbert), Bentworth (Ron Skiles), Butler (Rob Densmore), Carlynton (Mauro Monz), Clairton (Wayne Wade), Deer Lakes (Steve Sciullo), Derry (Tim Sweeney), Gateway (Tom Nola), Keystone Oaks (Greg Perry), Latrobe (Jason Marucco), Laurel (Brian Cooper), Northgate (T.J. Wiley), Norwin (Dave Brozeski), Perry (Ken Wright), Ringgold (Nick Milchovich), Riverview (Jason Cappa), Seton-La Salle (Damon Rosol), Sto-Rox (Jason Ruscitto) and Valley (Muzzy Colosimo).

Fall practice begins Aug. 11.

Belle Vernon coach suspended

Belle Vernon baseball coach Daryl Hixenbaugh, who just wrapped up his first season in a return stint to the school's baseball program, has been suspended by the district for the first two games of the 2015 season.

Hixenbaugh was suspended after a meeting before the WPIAL Board of Control on May 14.

He was called to the meeting because of comments he made about game umpires following a 2-1 loss to West Mifflin in a contest played April 17.

After the game, Hixenbaugh said, “The WPIAL puts these guys on a pedestal and gives them autonomy, but they are simply not very good. I have seen some truly horrible officiating this season.”

Belle Vernon's baseball program is already on probation for incidents that took place last season and in the 2012 PIAA playoffs, two seasons in which Hixenbaugh was not involved with the program.

When the WPIAL became aware of Hixenbaugh's comments, it requested a meeting with the coach and athletic director Jesse Cramer.

At the time, WPIAL Executive Director Tim O'Malley said Hixenbaugh's comments went beyond what is permitted to be said about officials to the media.

Cramer said that the district chose the suspension over a few alternatives that were discussed with the WPIAL.

“It's something that we have to just move on from now,” Cramer said. “We can't have those kind of distractions going on now, and I think everyone realizes that. There are just some things you don't want to say or do.”

PIAA board notes

• The PIAA board of directors this week approved the addition of four wrestlers per weight class for next year's PIAA championships. The change will allow for 20 qualifiers in each bracket, rather than 16.

This means the WPIAL will advance four wrestlers to the PIAA tournament instead of three in Class AAA.

In Class AA, the top six finishers (up from five) from the Southwest Regional will qualify.

• The PIAA also discussed mixed-gender participation but did not vote on a rule that would prevent boys playing on girls high school teams. The item was tabled until a June 19 meeting.

NFHS changes rule

Basketball players in marked lane spaces will be able to move into the lane when the ball is released by a free-throw shooter beginning next season, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations.

Previously, players had to wait until the ball touched the rim or backboard. The change was made because officials were having a difficult time watching the ball make contact with the rim or backboard and also seeing if players entered the lane early.

WPIAL scholar-athletes

The WPIAL honored 20 high school senior scholar-athletes at a banquet Monday at the Doubletree Hotel in Greentree. Rebecca Dudek (Freeport), Zachary Dysert (Fort Cherry), Olivia Lorusso (Canon-McMillan) and Nicholas Pattock (Burrell) each earned $5,000 scholarships.

Earning $500 scholarship awards were North Allegheny's Zachary Buerger, Valley's Cody Schrecengost, Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic's Joshua Churchin, Woodland Hills' Kai Oshimo, South Fayette's Justin Watson, Latrobe's Zach Zavatsky, Central Valley's Brian Kolich and Mars' Owen Nearhoof for the boys and North Hills' Mary Malone, Fort Cherry's Rachel Bellhy, Laurel Highlands' Melissa McCann, Serra Catholic's Megan Sieg, Seton-La Salle's Jeane Farnan, Shenango's Rachel Reamer, Laurel's Rachael Baker and New Brighton's Chelsea Fabyanic for the girls.

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