The Trumbull County Sports Hall of Fame will induct 12 new members during enshrinement ceremonies on Sunday, October 30 at DiVieste’s Banquet Center, 754 North River Road, N.W., Warren.
The organization’s 19th class includes Brian Beinecke (football), the late George A. Bollas (wrestling), Vanness “Van” Brandon (football), Tony Davis (football), Bill Dreier (contribution to sports, official), Nia Grant (volleyball), Larry Kempe (football, coach), the late Richard Raidel (football), Tom Raphtis (football), Bob Todd (golf, coach), Dan Williams (football, coach) and Mandy Zolciak Willis (basketball).
One of six football inductees in this year’s class, he is a 1971 graduate of Warren JFK High School, earning his undergraduate degree from Youngstown State University in 1976 and MA from Ashland University in 1999.
Born May 15, 1953, this year’s inductee has long been considered one of the brightest football minds around, a coaching career currently in its 48th year that has spanned the past six decades.
A defensive mastermind, he cut his teeth as an assistant coach on the Niles Washington ninth-grade staff, a position that he held for three seasons and lasting from 1975-77.
In 1978, he began a four-year run as the defensive coordinator at Leetonia High School, helping the Bears to a 23-15-2 overall mark, a Tri-County League co-championship in 1980 when the team posted a 7-1-2 ledger and a Tri-County League outright title the following year when he helped the team to a 9-1 overall finish.
In 1982, he moved over to Niles McKinley, staying until 1991 with his 10-year run resulting in a 47-50-3 overall mark and the 1988 All-American Conference title.
He served as an assistant under Red Dragons head coach Jack Pierson from 1982-84, helping the team to a 12-15-3 mark, remaining as an assistant to head mentor Bill Leonard during the 1985-86 seasons – the team went 7-13 overall – then finishing as an assistant coach-defensive coordinator to Dave Pappada from 1987-91, the team posting a 28-22-0 record those four seasons with a league title to their credit.
He served as defensive coordinator at Girard High School from 1991-94, helping guide the team to a 24-20 overall mark and an 11-2 mark in 1992, culminating with the Indians finishing as regional runners-up.
He returned to Niles McKinley in 1997 as the Red Dragons’ defensive coordinator, a post that he held until the 2003 campaign.
During his second stint at Niles McKinley, the team posted a 37-27 overall mark with the ’97 squad finishing as MAC champions as he earned the “Assistant Coach of the Year” award.
In 1999, the Red Dragons made a trip to the play-offs while in 2000 they were crowned MAC champions for the second time in four seasons, posting an 11-2 overall record while advancing to the regional finals.
In 2004 he moved over the Mathews High School to serve as the Mustangs’ defensive coordinator – the team finished 3-7 overall – then in 2005, was named Ursuline High School’s defensive coordinator, a post that held until the 2011 campaign.
Under his direction, the Fighting Irish defense was one of the most feared scholastically in the state as they went 73-27 overall with three state championships, four trips to the state finals and five total play-off appearances.
The 2005 UHS squad advanced to the play-offs, in 2007 the Fighting Irish finished 12-3 overall and ended the season as state runners-up while from 2008-10, they posted back-to-back-to-back state championships – they went 15-0 in 2008, 11-3 in 2009 and 15-0 in 2010 – going 41-3 during that unprecedented run.
In 2012, he became the head coach of the Fighting Irish, a post that he held until the 2018 campaign.
That first season as UHS head coach, he guided the team to an 8-5 overall mark and earned all-NEO Division V “Coach of the Year” laurels, leading UHS to the regional finals.
In 2013, the Fighting Irish earned a second consecutive play-off berth and in 2014, went 8-6 overall, advanced to the regional finals for the second time in three seasons while earning Mahoning County “Coach of the Year” honors.
In 2015, the Fighting Irish went 8-6 once again, made it to the state semi-finals where he was once again Mahoning County “Coach of the Year” as well as Big 33 “Coach of the Year.”
His teams finished with a 34-46 overall mark.
In 2019, he returned to Niles McKinley as an assistant coach and over the past three seasons (excluding the ’22 campaign) has helped the team to a 16-12 overall mark.
He is married to the former Traci Simon – they will celebrate their 32nd anniversary on November 24 – and they are the proud parents of two sons, Paul (30), a teacher at Ursuline High School who is the Fighting Irish head baseball coach and also serves as an assistant football coach at Niles McKinley, and Anthony (27), the digital marketing director at the Jewish Federation in Youngstown.
He resides in Girard.