New Pittston Area head football coach Mike Barrett addresses the PA school board after being named the eighth leader of the Patriots gridiron program on Tuesday night.photo by BILL TARUTIS
Pittston Area Booster Club treasurer Jim Castellino, right, talks with newly named football coach Mike Barrett.photo by BILL TARUTIS
Mike Barrett saw an opportunity to get a second chance at a job he failed to land back in 2007, so he took it.
It led to the Mid Valley assistant coach being named the eighth head football coach in Pittston Area history on Tuesday night. He follows Tony “Dip” Donato, who had his position opened a few days after the Patriots finished the season winless. Donato was 10-21 in his three years at Pittston Area.
The Pittston Area School Board voted 6-3 to appoint Barrett, a 33-year-old middle school teacher in the Valley View School District with 14 years of experience as an assistant coach.
“As I told the board in the interview and in my letter, I think the character of the people of Pittston is phenomenal,” Barrett said. “I couldn’t think of a better place. I think the facilities are fantastic and the numbers are there. I really believe there is a lot of potential here.”
Board members Terry Best, Richard Gorzkowski, Dr. Ross Latona, Robert Linskey, Mark Singer and Marylyn Sarna voted for Barrett. Anthony Guariglia, Bruce Knick and Martin Quinn voted against his hiring.
The vote came after Latona made a motion, which was seconded by Gorzkowski, to appoint Barrett as the football coach. Guariglia then made a motion to hire Jim Norris, who failed to get the position by a 5-4 vote at the December meeting. Quinn seconded the motion.
Since the motion for Barrett was made first, the board voted on him and he received enough votes for the position. No vote was taken on Norris.
Best, the board president, acknowledged that former King’s College coach Rich Mannello was the top candidate for the job. However, Mannello was also seeking a physical education teaching position and none was available immediately but one was highly expected at the end of the school year because of a retirement.
Best added that Mannello hadn’t completed his teacher certification yet, and even if he did by the time the opening occurred there was no guarantee he would be hired as a teacher.
Barrett is a 1995 graduate of Valley View where he was a wingback and cornerback. He played on the 1992 Class 2A state championship team as a sophomore. He immediately went into coaching upon graduating high school, joining the staff at his alma mater under Pennsylvania coaching legend Frank Pazzaglia.
When Pazzaglia was let go by Valley View after 38 seasons following the 2006 and became the head coach at Mid Valley, Barrett followed him there.
“The thing I’m going to take from him is organization and the amount of time you have to put in leads to success,” Barrett said.
Pittston Area is coming off an 0-10 season, its worst since going 0-11 in 1993. Mid Valley was in a similar situation when Barrett joined Pazzaglia at Mid Valley. Mid Valley was 2-9 in 2006, but made the District 2 Class 2A playoffs in Pazzaglia’s third season. The Spartans were 3-7 last season with wins over Western Wayne, Lackawanna Trail and winless Montrose.
“His enthusiasm and love for the game, the kids buy into that,” Barrett said. “They thoroughly enjoy playing for the man. That’s something I’m going to take here – that enthusiasm that I have for the game.”
Barrett wasn’t among the original 18 applicants for the position when an interviewing committee whittled the choice for the board down to three in December – Norris, highly successful New Jersey coach and Pittston High graduate Charlie Pirrello and longtime Delaware Valley High School assistant Nick Barbieri. Norris and Barbieri are former Pittston Area players.
But when the board decided to re-advertise for the position, Barrett was among the new applicants.
“I was actually very interested (in applying the first time),” Barrett said. “I saw it as a blessing the second time I saw it re-advertised.”
Bob Barbieri (1966-88)…146-91-5
Sal Licata (1989-93)…16-38
Sal Montagna (1994-95)…9-11-1
Tony Marranca (1996-1998)…11-21
Steve Armillay (1999-2004)…49-21
Lon Hazlet (2005-07)…6-24
Tony Donato (2008-10)…10-21
Mike Barrett (2011-)…0-0
Dispatch Staff Writer Rick Notari contributed to this report.