Beth-Center High School has found its football coach to succeed Joe Kuhns, who resigned earlier this year.
The district’s school board Monday night voted to hire veteran Tony Ruscitto as the Bulldogs’ new head football coach.
Ruscitto, 80, has served as head coach at several schools in his career, including Beth-Center in 1989 and 1990.
He formerly was the head coach at Mon Valley Catholic, Belle Vernon, Canon-McMillan, California, Duquesne, Elizabeth Forward and South Allegheny.
He was an assistant coach under Bill Connors at Beth-Center and Ringgold and an assistant to his son, Jason, at Sto-Rox. Last season, Ruscitto was an assistant coach at Uniontown.
The district’s board selected Ruscitto over Jason House, a Kuhns assistant and the one who has operated the program’s offseason workouts since Kuhns’ departure in May.
“I’ve lived in the Beth-Center School District and have been coaching every year,” Ruscitto said. “I love the game as much today as I did when I was in seventh grade.
“My job was opened after the 1990 season. I was disappointed but I never left a job in anger. I’ve never tired of coaching high school football.
I must have interviewed decent because I got the job,” he continued. “It’s very gratifying to come back to Beth-Center.”
Ruscitto said he has a coaching staff in place, which includes Tom Corazzi, his long-time defensive coordinator. Ruscitto said he has six coaches and five volunteers.
He met with the team Tuesday morning as members of the squad went through weightlifting workouts.
“I was impressed with the attitudes and workout,” Ruscitto said. “The kids were responsive to me. We had about 22 players there.”
Frank Morgan, co-athletic director at Beth-Center with Denise Fundy, said Tuesday that he and Fundy talked and they “were (both) involved in interviewing candidates, as was the board involved in interviewing candidates.”
“They (the board) did what they thought was best,” Morgan added.
While Ruscitto is the choice of the board, several who supported House spoke on behalf of him at Monday’s meeting, according to people at the meeting.
Parents and players were among that group supporting House.
In five years (2016-2020) at Beth-Center, Kuhns had a 19-30 record. The Bulldogs won 17 games in Kuhns’ first three seasons. Beth-Center qualified for the WPIAL playoffs all three seasons but lost in the first round each time, including twice against Steel Valley.
The past two seasons were quite difficult as the Bulldogs lost 15 of 17 games, including 12 of 13 Class 2A Century Conference games.
Ruscitto said “there’s a lot to take care of” starting essentially just weeks before the start of football camp in August.
“The biggest obstacle, especially next year (2022), will be roster size,” Ruscitto said. “We have low numbers in our junior and sophomore classes. The junior high team had low numbers as well.
“The future could be bleak. If we can get some things going and build up some interest and excitement in the program, the numbers will likely get better. When you’re down, the roster shrinks. When you are competitive and play better, the numbers go up.
“I’m excited to be here and to get started.”
Ruscitto said his son, Jason, will not be a member of his staff. Jason Ruscitto is an assistant coach at Elizabeth Forward.
The Bulldogs will meet the Warriors in Week 4 this season.
Beth-Center will again compete in the Century Conference with favorite McGuffey, Washington, Charleroi, Waynesburg, Chartiers-Houston and Frazier.
Football camps open Aug. 16 with Week Zero games to be played Aug. 27 or 28.