Steve Bucci works the night shift as a guard at the Allegheny County Jail. By day, he rehabilitates high school baseball programs.
At South Park and then at Canon-McMillan, Bucci turned teams into big winners. Now he's doing it again in his second go-round at South Park.
South Park is 16-0 and one of only two undefeated teams in the WPIAL. (Quaker Valley is the other.) And South Park has won in dominating fashion, outscoring teams by 182-31 and scoring in double figures 10 times.
In Bucci's first stint at South Park, he went 103-50-7 in seven seasons (2000-06) and made the WPIAL playoffs seven times and the WPIAL championship game once (2002).
From South Park, Bucci, 43, went to Canon-McMillan for two seasons and won a PIAA championship in 2008. He got out of coaching for a year after his first child was born. He coached Bethel Park in 2010 and came back to South Park in 2011.
South Park was 28-44 in his four years away.
"I don't think there is any magic wand that you wave that starts a program winning," Bucci said. "First off, you need a good, quality coaching staff assembled with you. I think we've done that at South Park. Really, those assistants are the unsung heroes.
"Then you just have to build a winning culture with the kids. Some people go crazy when you start winning. Three years ago, when I came back to South Park, people were saying, 'Why did he come back? What's he trying to do?' Now, people are talking about us winning all kinds of things. We haven't won anything yet. We've put ourselves in position, but let's face it -- there are some very good Triple-A teams in the WPIAL and we are just one of them."
It's hard to believe there is a more well-rounded team in the WPIAL than South Park. The Eagles' team batting average is .408 and the team ERA is 1.56.
Nick Yobbi (.567), Justin Dilla (.515) and Chris Winkler (.474) are all batting above .450. In the most recent WPIAL statistics, Winkler is No. 1 in RBIs with 24, and Yobbi is tied for fifth with 18. Shane Fetsko and Carter Grote both have 16. Grote leads the WPIAL in runs with 22.
Yobbi is tied for third in wins with a 4-0 record, while Jake Bywalski and Randy Dobnak both are 3-0.
"I work at night, so sleep is getting shorter and shorter these days, just because I'm excited and I want to get up and go to practice with this team," Bucci said. "When I came back three years ago, I remember it was a struggle just to get up and be to practice on time."
Aliquippa losing streaks
It has been well-chronicled how the fall season is full of wins at Aliquippa High School. The Quips have won more WPIAL football championships than any other school and have produced a handful of first-round NFL draft picks.
The Aliquippa basketball team, while mediocre lately, had been strong for decades. In the spring, the track team has a number of athletes who do well at the WPIAL and PIAA level.
But baseball and softball are a totally different story. Aliquippa's teams in those two sports lose like no other in the WPIAL. Consider that the two teams have combined for 187 losses in a row.
The Aliquippa baseball team has lost 65 games in a row and hasn't won a game since 2008. The softball team has lost 122 in a row and hasn't won a game since 2005.
James Barton was an all-section basketball player at Bethel Park in 2009 and recently finished his career at Bethany College with 1,143 points and 188 3-pointers. But he is also an aspiring rapper who has a song on the soundtrack for the movie "GI Joe." Barton goes under the name "Rel" and his song on the soundtrack is "Benzes & Porsches."
Home for Central?
The Central Catholic football team has never had a home field because the school doesn't have a stadium. That could change this season.
Central Catholic is close to a deal that would put the Vikings' home games at the new Highmark Stadium, a 3,500-seat facility next to Station Square on the South Side. The stadium's primary tenant is the Pittsburgh Riverhounds pro soccer team.
Check this out
• The De La Salle High School (Calif.) football team had a 151-game winning streak from 1993-2004 and Bob Ladouceur had a 399-25-3 record as the team's coach before retiring in January. Now a movie is being made about De La Salle and Ladouceur.
Production for "When the Game Stands Tall" got underway recently in New Orleans. It is based on Neil Hayes' book that chronicles De La Salle's 2002 season. Jim Caviezel, who played Jesus Christ in "The Passion of Christ," will play Ladouceur and Laura Dern ("Jurassic Park") will play his wife.
• Bishop Canevin is honoring longtime football coach Bob Jacoby at a ceremony at the school May 19. Jacoby retired after last season. Those interested in attending should call 412-922-7400.
For more on high school sports, go to "Varsity Blog" at www.post-gazette.com/varsityblog. Mike White: email@example.com or 412-253-1975. Twitter @mwhiteburgh First Published April 28, 2013 4:00 AM