ShareThis Page
High School Sports

Cortazzo getting second chance at SA

| Sunday, Aug. 22, 2004

Three years ago, East Allegheny coach Tim Cortazzo added an assistant he knew very well to his staff -- older brother Frank Cortazzo, who had just been removed after only one season running South Allegheny's program.

"He's the big brother I can always count on," Tim Cortazzo said. "The same one who kicked my butt when I was little. I tease him that fortunately, he's not in our section this year."

Frank Cortazzo is getting a second chance at South Allegheny, which is dealing with its seventh coach in seven seasons, if you include him twice and the short tenure of Jason Cappa, who was hired by the old school board, then replaced by the new one without coaching a game. The Gladiators were 3-7 under Pat Risha last year.

"I look at it like the last four years went kind of idle," Tim Cortazzo said of South Allegheny. "I think you have to understand the kind of kid you have. Frank has lived there for years. He understands the kids. I think in the next couple of years, you will see the results. I think if they had just left him in place (after the 1999 season) and let him go, things could have been different."

Frank Cortazzo knows this is a team in need of stability after a series of losing seasons and changes at the top.

"I feel the frustration on all sides," Cortazzo said. "It's not just the players. It's the parents. We've tried too many things too often. Even if Jim Ward (the coach from 2000 to '02) was in his fourth or fifth year now, it might have made a difference.

"I think we can turn it around."

Frank Cortazzo believes his presence and that of his coaches in the community will matter for the players.

"One kid came in and went up to one of our assistants and said, 'Coach, I see you everywhere. I see you at the grocery store, the ice cream stand," Cortazzo said. "To me, that's huge."

Unfortunately for the Gladiators, the roster is not, with only 31 players heading into camp.

"That's a low number," Cortazzo said. "I just told them, you have to bust your butts. We have to have everybody go both ways and play four quarters to win."

South Allegheny has had players leave, as well as coaches. Two standout WPIAL tailbacks -- Duquesne's Shane Brooks and Clairton's Dana Brown -- were at South Allegheny as freshmen due to a short-lived co-op agreement with Wilson Christian Academy.

The bulk of the rushing load now falls to another senior, 5-foot-11, 240-pounder Cayan Thaxton, also a starting linebacker, though 5-5 senior Jordan Kiser will also get some work. They will run behind a line anchored by 260-pound two-way tackle Bill Kostyzak.

Albert Serena, a 6-5, 240-pound senior, is moving back to tight end after spending last season on the offensive line, though he could move back down. He will also be at defensive end.

"Schools seem to like him for his size," Cortazzo said. "We want to get the ball in his hands."

Serena is part of a group of big targets for quarterbacks Joey Smith, a senior, and Brandon Myers, a sophomore. Wayne Salter, a 6-4 senior, is another key receiver.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me