Compiling this list was extremely difficult. Beaver County can claim not only some of the best coaches to ever walk the sidelines in the region, but also in the state.
One of the harder questions I asked myself was what Aliquippa coach(es) to include? Zmijanac, Marocco, Yanessa, or Aschman? Heck, you could have those four in your top five alone and wouldn’t get an argument from too many people. But, I included two of them on this list. As with the basketball list, I included a few honorable mentions.
5. Mike Zmijanac, Aliquippa
Zmijanac’s Quips have appeared in the WPIAL Championship game for seven consecutive years. Between football and basketball he’s coached in 26 title games. As Aliquippa’s head coach since 1997, he has won five WPIAL championships, and a PIAA title in 2003.
He also won three WPIAL basketball championships and a PIAA title in 1997 in his seven-year run as the Aliquippa basketball coach from 1996-2003. He is the only coach to win PIAA championships in football and basketball.
4. Joe Hamilton, Blackhawk
A legend in coaching circles around the WPIAL and the state of Pennsylvania, before coming to Blackhawk, where he still coaches, he led Midland in 1966 and 1967, compiling a 12-5-2 record.
Midland won the MAC title in 1966 and while earning coach of the year honors. He then took over the football program at New Brighton, where the Lions had a 46-18-1 record and were MAC champions and WPIAL runners-up in 1969, when Hamilton again earned coach of the year.
He started his long coaching tenure at Blackhawk in 1976, and has over 330 career wins in over 40 years as a head coach. His Cougars were WPIAL runners-up in 1978 and 1988 WPIAL. He has won four WPIAL championships, and three state runners-up.
3. Pat Tarquinio, Beaver
Tarquinio had an overall record of 241-101-11 at Beaver Area High School. Under his tutelage, the Bobcats won three WPIAL championships (’72, ’81, ’82), nine Midwestern Athletic Conference titles, and one WPIAL recognition for a perfect 10-0 record in 1968, when they missed the playoffs under the Gardner Point Rating System. His Beaver teams were also WPIAL runners-up twice.
When he left Beaver, he was the winningest coach in the WPIAL with 269 victories. Tarquinio was and still is a true gentleman and class act. The field at Gypsy Glen Stadium is now named after him as a tribute to his contributions to the school and the community.
2. Don Yanessa, Aliquippa
Yanessa led the Quips for 16 seasons as head football coach at Aliquippa High School. Between 1972 and 1988, his Quips won three WPIAL football championships – 1984, 1985, and 1987 – with a 128-43-5 record. Aliquippa went all the way to the WPIAL championship game in 1980, 1982, and 1983, but did not win.
He also had an 82-58-2 record at Baldwin, where he served as football coach and athletic director. His last coaching stint was at Ambridge. Few coaches have had the flair and pizzazz that Yanessa possessed as head coach. Yanessa’s extraordinary leadership ability came at a crucial time in Aliquippa’s history – the closing of the steel mills.
1. Larry Bruno, Beaver Falls
The innovator of innovators. A football mind way ahead of his time. Larry Bruno is Beaver County’s version of Vince Lombardi.
Bruno coached the Beaver Falls Tigers from 1959 until 1979. His career record stands at 134-52-9. The hallmark of Bruno’s offense was the option play, and his quarterbacks were the masters of deception.
In 1960, his Tigers, led by Joe Namath, went 10-0 and were awarded the Class A championship without a playoff because they were the only unbeaten and untied team that year. Namath thought so highly of Coach Bruno that he asked him to introduce him before he was enshrined to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
At Monaca, his teams finished 52-33-6, but it was at Beaver Falls where he left an indelible mark on the history of Beaver County football. He would later go on to sponsor passing camps, affectionately known as “Bruno Camp,” for local teams in the area.
*Carl Aschman (Aliquippa)
Guided the Quips to a 189-88-10 record from 1941 to 1964. Won school’s first WPIAL football championships in 1952, followed by titles in 1956, and 1964, with WPIAL runners-up status in 1942 and 1959. Aliquippa’s stadium now bears his name.
*Karl Florie (Riverside)
A former assistant under Larry Bruno at Beaver Falls, Florie’s Riverside Panthers captured the WPIAL title in 1985. Florie was named Dapper Dan Coach of the Year that season.
*Butch Ross (Hopewell)
Ross had many outstanding teams that he can cherish. The 1971 and 1972 Hopewell Vikings, led by Tony Dorsett and Dan Rains, ranks among the greatest of all time in Beaver County.
*Dan Matsook (Rochester)
Three-time state champ (1991, 1992, and 1998), including a perfect 15-0 season in 1998. Overall record of 111-47-2 record, the winningest coach in Rochester history. His teams made the WPIAL playoffs eight times and reached the championship game six of those times.
*Frank Marocco (Aliquippa)
Took over the Quips program 1989 and won the WPIAL Class AAA title. The next year, Aliquippa dropped to Class AA. Marocco won two other titles in 1991 and ’96. Ty Law was the star of his ’91 team.