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Palko turns down Fox Chapel offer

| Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2001

Bob Palko, who has led West Allegheny to three WPIAL Class AAA championships, turned down an offer to become football coach at Fox Chapel.

That was fine with Todd Massack.

Massack, 34, a long-time assistant at Fox Chapel, was recommended last night to the Fox Chapel School Board as the new head football coach. The school board will vote on the appointment at next week's regular board meeting.

'This is a dream job for me,' Massack said. 'It's a perfect situation.'

Massack replaces Pat Johnston, who stepped down this summer after going 5-25 in three seasons at Quad-A Fox Chapel. Massack became the search committee's top choice after Palko, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Coach of the Year, told Fox Chapel officials that he wasn't leaving West Allegheny.

Fox Chapel had approached Palko about the job, and he had two subsequent interviews. Palko, who is 56-16 in six years at West Allegheny, became the frontrunner for a vacancy that had attracted more than 50 applicants.

Palko said he would have moved his family into the Fox Chapel School District. His junior son, quarterback/safety Tyler Palko, is one of the top players in the state, and has led West Allegheny to the past two WPIAL Class AAA titles.

'It was difficult, but it was a family decision,' Bob Palko said. 'It was something we had to do. We sat down and looked at it and felt it was in the best interest of everybody in the family (to stay at West Allegheny).

'Financially, it was a nice situation. It wasn't like I was out looking. It was a nice opportunity, but I'm happy at West Allegheny.'

Palko's withdrawl left two finalists: Massack and Doug Phillips of Springfield (Ohio) Local, who guided his team to a 30-5 record since 1998 and a spot in the 2000 Ohio regional finals.

'There was a lot of interest in the job,' Massack said. 'But I was confident. I just did the very best that I could, and that was all that I could do.'

Massack, a physical education teacher at Fox Chapel, coached from 1989-92 at Plum. He joined former Foxes coach Joe Naunchik's staff in 1993 as the offensive and defensive line coach. He was Fox Chapel's strength and conditioning coach the past three years.

Massack played offensive line at Riverview for Pennsylvania Hall of Fame coach Chuck Wagner, then at Slippery Rock. His grandfather, the late Elmer Gross, was a legendary football coach at Oakmont High School in the 1940s and '50s.

Now, Massack has his first head coaching job.

'I feel real fortunate.'

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