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High School Sports

Cavanaugh returns to lead Greensburg Salem

Joe Napsha
| Thursday, Jan. 13, 2005

Twenty-five years after leading Greensburg Salem's football team on the field, Casey Cavanaugh is returning to lead the team from the sidelines.

The Greensburg Salem School Board on Wednesday picked Cavanaugh, who played quarterback for Greensburg Salem and later coached against his alma mater, as its football coach for 2005. Cavanaugh, 42, will be paid a salary of $8,657 for his coaching duties in the upcoming season.

Cavanaugh succeeds George Kemerer, who resigned in November after serving 10 years as the football coach. Cavanaugh is only the fifth coach at Greensburg Salem since 1955, when Bob Williams was hired.

When contacted after the school board meeting last night, Cavanaugh said he was honored to be selected at the school where he played football, as well as his father.

"To have such an opportunity, it's an honor. I'm very excited," Cavanaugh said.

Cavanaugh was recommended by the school administration and was hired on a unanimous vote. Cavanaugh was selected over several candidates, including former Greensburg Salem coach Jim Jones, Greensburg Salem defensive coordinator Mark Zahorchak and Carmichaels coach Mike Bosnic Jr.

Greensburg Salem Superintendent Thomas Yarabinetz said following the meeting that Cavanaugh was selected because of his experience as a head coach at Hempfield Area and in Florida.

Cavanaugh is familiar with the community and with the school system, having graduated from Greensburg Salem and having served as an assistant coach the past two seasons, Yarabinetz added.

"We were very impressed with the program he described," Yarabinetz said.

The superintendent said that the references Cavanaugh provided complimented him both as a coach and as a person.

"We want someone who will be a good role model for the kids," Yarabinetz said.

Cavanaugh will be given the opportunity to fill his staff, Yarabinetz said. The superintendent said he believes many members of the staff will want to return.

Cavanaugh said he plans to run a multiple-formation offense. He intends to field a team, in the Greensburg Salem tradition, that can run the football.

As for defense, Cavanaugh said he wants to continue with the aggressive defense that Zahorchak has in place.

Cavanaugh was on the other side of the Greensburg Salem-Hempfield Area rivalry when he coached Hempfield Area from 1996 to 2000. He compiled a 21-27 record that included two WPIAL playoff appearances in 1996 and 1997.

After posting a 1-9 record in 2000, Cavanaugh resigned in February 2001 for personal reasons. He said he wanted to spend more time with his family.

He returned to coaching in 2003, when he served as a volunteer assistant at Greensburg Salem, before becoming a paid assistant this past season.

Cavanaugh said the past two years as an assistant coach were very rewarding, and served as a good transition to getting back after a two-year break from coaching.

Greensburg Salem defensive lineman Jake Kurant, a junior, said that Cavanaugh seems to be a nice guy and expects him to do well as the new coach.

"A lot of the players I talked to didn't care who was named," Kurant said after last night's wrestling match against Penn-Trafford.

"Some of the players hoped that either Coach Z (Zahorchak) or Coach Cavanaugh would be hired. I hope Coach Z stays with the staff."

Prior to his tenure at Hempfield Area, Cavanaugh was an assistant and head coach at Monsignor Pace High School in Miami where he compiled a 12-10 record during his two seasons.

In high school, Cavanaugh was the starting quarterback his junior and senior years. After graduation in 1980, he played at Waynesburg College, where he was a two-year starter.

Cavanaugh is an English teacher at Hempfield Area High School. Yarabinetz said he anticipates there will be several openings in the teaching staff next school year because of retirements.

The superintendent said that if Cavanaugh applied for teaching job at Greensburg Salem, he would be considered.

"If we would hire him, it would be based on the fact that he is an outstanding teacher," Yarabinetz said.

Cavanaugh said he has not discussed seeking a job in Greensburg Salem, but it is a step that may be considered.

Tribune-Review high school sports editor Paul Schofield contributed to this report

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