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High school football notebook: Kittanning's Fabian prefers to coach from above

| Friday, Sept. 14, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
Louis B. Ruediger
Kittanning football coach Frank Fabian, shown here during the Wildcats' season opener on Aug. 31, 2012, prefers to coach from the press box. Louis B. Ruediger | Leader Times

Frank Fabian is used to the strange looks and off-color comments by now.

“In the beginning, my assistants were like, ‘Are you serious?' ” said Fabian, Kittanning's first-year coach. “They couldn't believe what I was doing. Some people ask if I got injured on the sideline or something like Joe Paterno. My mom asked me, ‘Don't you do anything as the head coach?' ”

Fabian coaches in a unique way, from a unique place — the press box.

“I just see things better up there,” he said.

Fabian found a comfortable spot in the booth as an offensive coordinator at Redbank Valley three years ago. When he became the coach there, he opted for that same, convenient chair behind the glass.

He'll coach his first Kittanning home game tonight, against non-conference opponent Greensburg Central Catholic (0-2), and once again plans to call plays from upstairs.

Fabian was coach at Redbank Valley for the past two years and coached 21 of 23 games from the press box.

“The coach I replaced (Ed Wasilowski) ended up coming back as my defensive coordinator,” Fabian said. “We tried a role reversal. He went up, and I stayed down. I just felt like I operated better from the box.”

So far at Kittanning, he's spent one game — the opener at Freeport — on the field. Last week at East Allegheny, he was back in the booth as Kittanning (1-1) bounced back from a season-opening loss with a 34-13 win.

Kittanning switched to a shotgun no-huddle offense this season, shelving the long-standing Wing-T. Fabian said operating the new offense has been easier from a birds-eye view.

“Coaches call audibles, and you see them audible and get those down,” he said. “Things move so fast when you're on the field. I think it's a huge advantage for a play-caller. When you're on the field, you only see one side. I can sleep easier at night knowing I got the play in.”

Fabian assigned special teams coach Jamie Paul to call timeouts and talk to officials, who are warned before games that Fabian will be in the box.

There are some things that can make Fabian's perch uncomfortable.

“The walk down the steps at halftime,” he said. “You become a much easier target for people. Depends on how the game's going, I guess.”

Extra points

Former Valley player Tyler Balla is now at Greensburg Central Catholic. He is a junior running back. ... Apollo-Ridge quarterback Jesse Zelonka has passed for 378 yards on just 14 completions. That's 27 yards per play. ... Shady Side Academy will dedicate its renovated football stadium tonight before the Indians play Valley. It will be called Michael J. Farrell Stadium, in name of the trustee who made a donation to the program. ...Kiski Area's last win over Gateway was in 2001. The Cavaliers won 30-7 as now-Valley-assistant Corey Smith passed for 221 yards and four touchdowns, including 107 and two TDs to wideout Greg Hutcherson, now the boys basketball coach at Ford City.

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