The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

September 6, 2013

Dragons step up for their coach

Star Beacon

— High school football coaches, by nature, are usually very adept at remember specifics when it comes to certain games, seasons, etc.

Part of that stems from the fact varsity regular seasons are only 10-game animals, sometimes, even nine, while another is because quite frankly, the sport receives to much publicity.

Which makes earning their first varsity victory as a head coach memorable, which was indeed the case for first-year Lakeside Dragons coach Frank Hall, whose Dragons invaded and conquered Youngstown East last Friday night in their season-opening game, 13-12.

Himself an Ashtabula guy, being a 1992 graduate of Harbor High School, where he was a star two-way lineman in football and wrestler, the meaning was perhaps even deeper for Hall.

“Mitch Hewitt lost a tough game Friday night to West Geauga, but took time to call me and congratulate me,” Hall said of the man who is the head coach at his alma mater, Chardon, with whom Hall coached as an assistant before taking the Lakeside job. “That really meant a lot.”

But wait, there’s more, going back to his playing days as a Harbor Mariner, led by Ashtabula County Football Hall of Famer and current Geneva assistant, Mike Hassett.

“Mike Hassett called, too,” Hall said. “It’s funny, but it’s been 21 years since he has coached me — and I would still run through a wall for him.”

And there were more congratulatory calls, as well, from former colleagues and mentors.

“Doug Snyder, Jim DiPofi and Tim Armelli all called,” Hall said. “It was a real blessing to have work for all them.”

He admitted the opening-night triumph in Youngstown was special, but he felt that way even more so for his players.

“Friday night was about our kids and what they did,” he said. “I was so proud.”

As were the Dragons themselves, not only for their accomplishments, but they didn’t forget their leader.

While senior Nick Meola earned the team’s Sledgehammer Award for his efforts in the victory, they presented their coach with the game ball.

“I was a great feeling,” Hall — albeit humbly — admitted.

Feelin’ the love

To the west, Perry coach Matt Rosati admitted the time shared with his guys and staff immediately after a collective triumph is amazing.

His Pirates felled visiting Riverside on Friday night at Alumni Stadium, 22-8.

“Don, it truly is the best feeling in my mind about coaching, and the most enjoyable half hour after winning a big game,” he said. “It never gets old.”

Crowded house

Back this way a bit, Hall of Fame inductee Tony Hassett basked in the moment when his Eagles polished off Edgewood, 25-13, Friday night at Corlew Stadium.

“It was such a great atmosphere,” he said. “There was an excellent crowd on both sides. You could feel the excitement in the air. We were really proud of our fans and student section the way they were cheering for us. We thank them!

“It was outstanding. All the players’ hard work paid off.”

Of course, no coach is ever satisfied.

“We got the first one,” Hassett said. “Now, we must get ready for our next opponent — Perry.”

And finally...

Pymatuning Valley coach Neal Croston and his staff were amped up after watching their Lakers turn the tables on Berkshire, 34-22, in Burton, avenging a 34-14 whipping put to them in the 2011 opener at Laker Stadium.

“The guys were excited,” he said. “It was great to see the guys get that first win.”