2/18/2010
Nanticoke Area names new football coach
Former assistant coach, player Ron Bruza becomes the fourth head coach since 2001.
jerzar@timesleader.com

As a starter on Nanticoke Area’s last football team to make the playoffs, Ron Bruza knows what the program can accomplish.
As the Trojans’ newly-appointed head coach, he also understands the chasm that has developed since that 1999 season.
Bruza was unanimously appointed head coach during a school board meeting Wednesday night, and his task now is to rebuild a program that has been the worst in the Wyoming Valley Conference in recent years.
“We have a lot of good athletes and great young men here,” said Bruza, who was an assistant football coach the past two years. “It’s going to be an uphill climb, but with their work and dedication and hearts in the program I think we’re going to see some success.”
Success has been rare since Nanticoke finished 7-4 in 1999, making the District 2-1 Class 2A subregional playoffs where it lost 28-17 to Dunmore in the first round. The program has one winning season since then, finishing 6-4 in 2002, and gone through three head coaches and one interim head coach.
Nanticoke is 8-52 over the last seven seasons and has fallen on hard times the last three years. The Trojans were 0-10 in 2007 and 2008, and 1-9 this past season. During that three-year span, they were outscored 1,186-175 and shut out 11 times.
A main problem has been a player turnout. Nanticoke’s roster annually has been among the smallest in the WVC. Len Butczynski cited the lack of players as a reason he resigned as head coach after the 2004 season. His successors – Bob Colatosti from 2005-2007 and Lou Cella 2008-2009 – dealt with the same issue.
Bruza, though, believes he can increase participation.
First, Bruza teaches in the district, unlike his predecessors. He is a fifth-grade teacher at the elementary center. Secondly, he cited the growth of the wrestling team where he is an assistant to head coach Joe Ebert.
“With our wrestling program, when me and the head coach took it over five years ago we started with four kids,” said Bruza, a King’s College graduate who spent 14 months deployed in Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom II. “Now, for the last three years we’ve had success with numbers. We averaged over 20 kids the last three seasons.
“I have some ideas to get numbers out. One thing that will definitely help is me being in the district where the students will have to see me. That will have a major impact. And I have a pretty good rapport with the kids to begin with.”
Bruza also wants to get the community more involved. He remembers how thrilled he was as a child to touch Nanticoke varsity players as they left the locker room. He later became one, starting four years as a fullback and linebacker.
“It’s going to take two to three years,” Bruza said, “but there is only one direction the program can go and that’s up. Last year we got off to a good start with coach Cella here. They broke a losing streak. These kids are strong, they are strong-willed and they want to get better.”
Bruza joins GAR’s Paul Wiedlich Jr., Lake-Lehman’s Jerry Gilsky and Meyers’ Dwayne Downing as new head coaches for the 2010 season. Hazleton Area and Holy Redeemer still have to appoint coaches.

11/7/2009
Lou Cella won’t be back to coach in 2010
Times Leader

Nanticoke Area football coach Lou Cella announced Friday that he will not return as coach for the 2010 season.
Cella did not coach the Trojans this season after suffering a heart attack during the offseason.
“I have discussed my recent health issues with my physicians and have decided not to return as head varsity football coach at Greater Nanticoke Area High School in 2010,” Cella said in an e-mail sent to the media Friday night.
“I have always stressed to my students and athletes that it is important to invest 100 percent into everything that is important to them,” Cella continued in the e-mail. “Due to my involvement in cardiac rehabilitation, vascular education classes, and nutritional meetings, I now have to dedicate substantial time to my health.”
Cella coached Nanticoke for one season – 2008. He was replaced on the sidelines this season by his brother, Mario.

9/17/2009
Cella hoping to be cleared to watch Trojans play John Erzar H.S. Football
John Erzar - Times Leader

Lou Cella will find out today his status as Nanticoke’s football coach.
The decision has nothing to do with the school board, administration or parents.
Instead, Cella will visit his cardiologist – Dr. Mark Bernardi – for a checkup. The 31-year-old had a heart attack on Aug. 4 and has been prohibited from participating in any activities involving the Trojans football program. His brother Mario and the rest of the coaching staff have been running the team.
Three things can come from Cella’s doctor’s visit:
He can get clearance to resume coaching, something he completely expects not to happen.
He can get the OK to watch Nanticoke from the pressbox, but not be allowed to wear a headset or do any coaching.
He will continue his hiatus until his overall health improves. He weighed 338 pounds the day of his heart attack and has lost 25 pounds since, but is finding it difficult losing more weight despite a strict diet and exercising.
Cella is fully prepared to accept the third option, although he would really like it if No. 2 is Dr. Bernardi’s decision.
“I’m hoping he clears me to watch the games,” Cella said. “That’s all I want to do right now. … I tried to get cleared for last week, but he won’t clear me for any games or practices. What are you going to do?”
Nanticoke’s 25-8 victory over Columbia-Montour Vo-Tech – a District 4 Class 3A playoff team in 2008 – last Friday has only fueled his desire to return to the sideline. The Trojans snapped a 22-game losing streak – longest in District 2 at the time – and he is really optimistic the sophomore class can turn around the program.
Those sophomores were 6-3-1 in junior high last year.
“The relief came with a couple kids,” Cella said. “The relief came with the five seniors and the two juniors that played last year. Other than that, they were happy they won and happy the notoriety of not having success is gone.”
Actually, Cella did show up at Nanticoke last Friday, albeit after the game ended.
Cella was at Wilkes-Barre Memorial Stadium watching the Hanover Area versus Meyers game when he received a text that Nanticoke was leading 13-0 at halftime. He went to his car, said a couple prayers (football coaches are like that) and eventually drove to Nanticoke.
Besides bettering his health, Cella is fighting another battle – boredom. He has taken a leave of absence from his teaching position at Wyoming Area, making for long days at home.
Compounding the boredom is Cella lives in a rural area, and it’s not feasible to go for short walks to visit neighbors or a coffee shop or something like that.
The excitement this week –the street he lives on is being paved.
“I might go out and watch them,” Cella said.
That could cut into the monotony for awhile, but it’s guaranteed to have another effect – increasing Cella’s aspirations of smoothing out the rough road Nanticoke’s program has been on.
WARNING SIGNS
Cella’s heart attack didn’t have the classic symptom of immediate chest pain.
He was on his way to the New York Jets training camp when he felt pain in his back, forearm and the base of his thumb.
About 14 hours later while at home, the pain came back as well as pain in his chest. He drove to General Hospital in Wilkes-Barre where he was told he had a heart attack.
The heart attack was brought on by sleep apnea, a disorder that causes a person’s breathing to be interrupted while sleeping. Sleep apnea can create a myriad of health issues or even cause a person to die while sleeping.
As a sufferer of sleep apnea myself, I urge everyone to take quiz at the American Sleep Apnea Association Web site – sleepapnea.org.

9/3/2009
A tough road ahead for young team
Cella hopes to break 21-game winless streak
jerzar@timesleader.com

Lou Cella knew he was stepping into a tough situation last year as Nanticoke Area’s coach.
So even when the Trojans went winless, he believes progress was made in reviving a once-proud program.
“Everything has gone as expected,” Cella said. “All we wanted to do last year was cleanse the program. It was a senior-laden team and knew there were a plethora of issues.
“I knew there were some severe issues. I knew when I took over this would be a four- to eight-year process just to get competitive. I expect in 2011 we’ll be competitive with everybody in Wyoming Valley Conference Division 2A.”
Cella hasn’t been at practice through double sessions. The 31-year-old suffered a heart attack Aug. 4 and has been ordered by his doctors to stay away from football until his health improves.
In the meantime, his brother Mario and the rest of the coaching staff have run the show and provided the head coach with updates.
“It’s not been hard at because my assistants were with me last year,” Cella said. “My brother is there and he’s pretty much in charge and he’s been with me 28 years. He knows how things are to be done and my assistant coaches are wonderful.”
ON OFFENSE
Except for the occasional big play, Nanticoke had trouble moving the ball with any consistency last year.
That might be a problem again as seven new starters are in the lineup.
The line is the most experienced group with tackles Andrew Agustini and Jake Myers and center Al Lieby back. Rich Badowski and Corey Burke will be the guards.
Across the board, the line is one of the smallest in the WVC with an average weight of 180 pounds. The Trojans are hoping their triple option offense will help mask the decisive size disadvantage.
Senior Deric Grohowski is back as the quarterback, but sophomore Zak Matuleski could also figure into the picture.
The running backs – senior Ryan Evans and sophomores Ken Humphrey and Tom Vitale – are very inexperienced. Evans had three carries last year to lead the group.
Junior Edwin Agosto brings some experience to the slotback position, but sophomores Brian Maslowski and Derek Wolfe are newcomers.
John Decker and Kyle Kotz will be the receiver. Neither had a reception last season, but considering Nanticoke completed just eight passes in 10 games that’s not surprising.
Cella, though, is optimistic the offense will perform better and has challenged it to do so.
“We expect to be better even though we have six sophomores on offense,” Cella said. “How much better will be up to them.”
ON DEFENSE
Nanticoke surrendered 385 points last season, down from 412 in 2007 but still the most in the WVC. The total was the third most in District 2, just behind Holy Cross (454) and Western Wayne (479) of the Lackawanna Conference.
The defense will be even younger than the offense, with seven sophomore expected to contribute. The Trojans hope any shortcomings can be alleviated by hustle and desire.
“We want a defense that will sprint to the ball and tackle,” Cella said.
Evans and Myers return as linebackers, but then there’s a long list of candidates to fill the positions in the 3-5 alignment. Agustini, Badowski, Grohowski, Humphrey, Kotz and Maslowski are the frontrunners.
Vying for time in the three-man front are Lieby, Andy Freeman, Chad Hashagen, Chris Gravish and Pedro Bracero. Like on the other side of the ball, the unit lacks size.
Matuleski is penciled in as the safety, with Agosto, Vitale and Wolfe filling the two corner positions.
OUTLOOK
Breaking a 21-game losing streak – longest in District 2 – would be nice. But the main goal is developing the core of sophomores and preventing those players from being discouraged in what will be another rough year.