Nanticoke Area names new football coach
Former assistant coach, player Ron Bruza becomes the fourth head coach
As a starter on Nanticoke Areas 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. Its going to be an uphill climb, but
with their work and dedication and hearts in the program I think were
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. Nanticokes
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 Kings College graduate who spent 14 months deployed
in Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom II. Now, for the
last three years weve 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.
Its going to take two to three
years, Bruza said, but there is only one direction the
program can go and thats 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 GARs Paul Wiedlich Jr., Lake-Lehmans
Jerry Gilsky and Meyers Dwayne Downing as new head coaches for
the 2010 season. Hazleton Area and Holy Redeemer still have to appoint
Lou Cella wont be back to coach in
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,
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 Nanticokes
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 Cellas doctors
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. Bernardis
Im hoping he clears me to watch
the games, Cella said. Thats all I want to do right
I tried to get cleared for last week, but he wont
clear me for any games or practices. What are you going to do?
Nanticokes 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
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
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 its 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,
That could cut into the monotony for awhile,
but its guaranteed to have another effect increasing
Cellas aspirations of smoothing out the rough road Nanticokes
program has been on.
Cellas heart attack didnt 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 persons 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.
A tough road ahead for young team
Cella hopes to break 21-game winless streak
Lou Cella knew he was stepping into a tough
situation last year as Nanticoke Areas 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 well be competitive with
everybody in Wyoming Valley Conference Division 2A.
Cella hasnt 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
Its not been hard at because my assistants
were with me last year, Cella said. My brother is there
and hes pretty much in charge and hes been with me 28 years.
He knows how things are to be done and my assistant coaches are wonderful.
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
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 thats 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.
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
theres 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.
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.