Former Jeannette coach Mucci adds another honor to list
When Joe Mucci coached football at Jeannette and Greensburg Central Catholic, he said he was tough but fair with his players.
He wanted them to do things the right way — his way — and have fun doing it.
“I didn't care who it was, I treated each player the same,” Mucci said. “I was just as tough on the good players, and I coached some great ones. I was even tough on my own kids, and I think for most part I did a good job.
“I always thought you had to show sensitivity to each player, and you had to be a great motivator on the practice field and in the classroom. The good Lord blessed me with that ability.”
Mucci had a 183-49-4 record at GCC and Jeannette and led the Jayhawks to WPIAL titles in 1971, 1981 and 1983. GCC won the PCL (Pittsburgh Catholic League) title in 1966 and was runner-up in 1967.
The legendary coach has been inducted into four halls of fames (New Castle, St. Vincent, Pennsylvania Hall of Fame Western Chapter and Pennsylvania Football Coaches Hall of Fame), and Friday he will be inducted into his fifth — the WPIAL's 10th class.
Mucci is part of the 2016 group that includes Oakland Catholic basketball player Meg Bulger, Chartiers Valley basketball player T.J. McConnell, Waynesburg golfer Rachel Rohanna, North Allegheny wrestling coach, the late Gus DeAugustino, and former Beaver football coach Pat Tarquinio.
“All of the Hall of Fame inductions have significant meanings,” Mucci said. “It means a lot to me being recognized.”
Mucci was a 1951 graduate of Derry Township High School and a 1959 grad of St. Vincent. He was the first football coach and athletic director at GCC, and in 1968 he went to Jeannette and quickly turned around a struggling program.
“Jeannette was hungry for a winning program,” Mucci said. “I closed the scrimmages to fans, but they still found a way to sneak into the stadium. They wanted to see what type of team we had.”
Jeannette won its first four games of the 1968 season, including its initial win against rival Hempfield. The win vaulted Jeannette to a No. 1 ranking in the state.
“Jeannette fans danced in the streets after that win,” Mucci said.
Mucci was credited with turning the football program around, and this past season Jeannette reached the 700-win plateau. Since he was hired, Jeannette is 406-108-7.
Jeannette, ranked No. 2 behind New Castle in the WPIAL in all-time wins, has a 709-312-48 mark. New Castle is 719-390-69.
George Wolfe was the quarterback of the 1968 team. Jeannette was 2-16-1 during his sophomore and junior seasons.
“Coach Mucci re-energized the fan base and town,” Wolfe said. “He was extremely organized, paid attention to details and was a great motivator.”
Ray Reitz, who played for Mucci (1971-73), said his former coach brought pride back to the community.
“Joe didn't pull any punches,” said Reitz, who later became an assistant when Art Tragesser took over in 1986. “Joe made you proud to be a Jayhawk. When he walked into the locker room, you had great respect for him.”
Said Tragesser: “He cared about the kids, and he cared about his coaches. He's a great man.”