Due to some off-the-court issues, Doug Biega said this season was most definitely the toughest in his 13 years as Beaver Falls' coach.
But it also ended up being his most rewarding.
Biega guided Beaver Falls to great heights as the Tigers had a 28-3 record, won the WPIAL Class AA championship and made it to the PIAA title game. For his efforts, Biega is the Post-Gazette Coach of the Year.
During the season, Beaver Falls assistant coach Carlos Cleckley was arrested on cocaine distribution charges. Also, a player's relative was killed in a shooting, a cheerleader died in an apparent suicide and seldom-used player Corey Jefferson was arrested after allegedly stabbing someone in a fight off of school grounds. Six other players were suspended for a few games for being involved in the same fight.
But Beaver Falls still thrived. Biega won his second WPIAL title and coached in his third PIAA championship. A former player at Center, Biega's career record is 277-78 (.780 winning percentage).
How tough was this season? These things that happened weren't small events. I lost a 13-year assistant to a life I didn't know he had. The brother of one of our players got shot two days before Christmas. You're talking about major events and then there was the added pressure of knowing you have a good shot at going far with this team, because these teams don't come along all that often.
Was it really the most rewarding season? It's not a cliche but this was my favorite group because they were all home-grown, and I got to see them develop from ninth grade on. I still think we're the best [Class AA] team in Pennsylvania. We just had a bad night shooting. It was great to see the way this team bought in to playing defense.
Any regrets? No. Absolutely none. We did things the right way this year. We didn't just show up. We tried to do all the little things right and paid attention to detail in practice.
Is it hard to coach at Beaver Falls? It's hard to coach anywhere. Nowadays, there can be so many things that can be land mines. Maybe some school board members don't like you, or the principal or the superintendent. Parents want all kids to have playing time. But it's not just me. It's the perils of all coaches everywhere.
People might be surprised to know that ... ? The only movie that made me cry was "Rocky II."