In Western Pennsylvania high school football, that one name was synonymous with New Castle High School, a truckload of victories, championships and a legend.
Lindoro "Lindy" Lauro was all of the above and then some. A man who was as tough as a bad steak brought prominence to New Castle football in his 32 seasons as coach (1961-1992). Mr. Lauro was revered throughout the town of New Castle and is considered one of the greatest coaches in Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League history.
Mr. Lauro died Thursday night of natural causes at the Greer House, an assisted living home in New Castle. He was 90.
"Sometimes we use that term 'legend' too loosely with people," said Mark Mangino, the former head coach at the University of Kansas who played for Mr. Lauro and later coached under him. "But when it comes to Western Pennsylvania football and New Castle and the kids' lives he touched, he was a true legend."
Mr. Lauro coached during decades when 12,000 to 15,000 fans would regularly show up at New Castle games. He won two WPIAL championships (1967 and '73) and one co-championship (New Castle tied Upper St. Clair, 0-0, in the 1975 title game). He had six perfect seasons, but back then not all undefeated teams made the playoffs. He is 12th on the all-time WPIAL list of victories, with a 220-104-15 record.
When Mr. Lauro won his 200th game in 1987, New Castle was the first school in the country to have two coaches with 200 or more wins. Phil Bridenbaugh won 265 from 1922-1955.
But it wasn't just the wins that made Mr. Lauro the most popular figure in New Castle. He also churned out many players who went on to play major-college football and a few in the NFL. During Mr. Lauro's tenure, 20 New Castle players made first-team all-state. Defensive lineman-linebacker Bruce Clark is a former Lauro player who is considered one of the best in WPIAL history and went on to play at Penn State and in the NFL from 1982 to 1989.
But it was the way Mr. Lauro went about coaching in the blue-collar town that made him different. Mr. Lauro was famous for having practices that lasted anywhere from 3 1/2 to 41/2 hours.
"He was very demanding, and he wanted perfection. He didn't have time to fool around with kids who weren't committed," said Mr. Mangino, who was a senior defensive tackle on the 1973 WPIAL championship team. "You did some fundamentals early in the season, but I remember a lot of his practices went this way. You loosened up by running a lap around the track -- and then you scrimmaged for three to four hours."
Mr. Lauro was an old-style coach who believed the best way to win was play tough defense and run the football.
"He was a tough guy, but he got everything out of you," said Sam Flora, New Castle's athletic director who played running back for Mr. Lauro from 1967 to 1969. "There were so many different aspects of his career that made him such a legend. First, he was just a great person. But he was a repetitious type of coach.
"His legendary play was '28 power' out of an unbalanced line. He ran it for years. It was just a power inside tackle play. I remember when I was a junior, I ran the ball 34 times in one game. I ran '28 power' probably 25 times."
Mr. Lauro was known to be a tough coach, but one who cared for his kids.
"He'd give kids second and third chances if they needed it," Mr. Mangino said.
Mr. Lauro also was a history teacher at New Castle High School. Mr. Mangino remembers how anxious Mr. Lauro was just for practice.
"He dressed nicely for school," said Mr. Mangino, who spent five years as an assistant under Mr. Lauro in the early 1980s. "Then practice would start, and I remember there would be times he would be out on the practice field in his wing-tipped black dress shoes and black socks. As assistant coaches, we'd say, 'Why does he do that?' Finally, someone told us he doesn't want to waste any time before practice and he believes you can coach, no matter what you have on."
Mr. Lauro played at New Castle High School under Mr. Bridenbaugh and went on to attend the University of Alabama in 1941. He eventually enlisted in the Air Force and, upon discharge, enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh, where he was a four-year, two way-starter at fullback and safety.
He went on to play in the NFL for a few years with the Chicago Cardinals and was the oldest rookie in the history of the league at age 29.
Mr. Lauro coached football, basketball and baseball at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa., and also coached football at the University of Dayton and the Canadian Football League for a year.
During his glory days at New Castle, Mr. Lauro was in a conference with two other legendary coaches -- Art Bernardi of Butler and Larry Bruno of Beaver Falls. Then in the early 1970s, Don Yannessa became Aliquippa's coach and would turn the Quips into a WPIAL powerhouse. Aliquippa played New Castle many years, including the 1988 WPIAL title game. Mr. Lauro was a role model for Mr. Yannessa.
"For a few years when we played them, he thought my name was Danny," Mr. Yannessa said. "I didn't have the heart to tell him it was Don, just because he was Lindy Lauro.
"He was the standard in regards to success. I mean Larry Bruno was a magician and Bernardi was an organizer, but Lindy was like Conan the Barbarian. He knew when he was going to beat you, and he told you about it.
"I remember a few years ago, we were playing golf at Castle Hills in New Castle. I knew Lindy had a house on that course, so I called him up the day before. He said I'm right near the fourth tee, and he said he'd be waiting for me the next day. We got to the fourth tee and there he was on his porch. So my foursome went over, and he had the wine, the cheese and Prosciutto all ready. We let five foursomes go through because I just wanted to stay there and talk to Lindy."
Mr. Lauro is survived by his wife of 49 years, Victoria; two daughters, Marguerite Lauro of Point Reyes, Calif., and Lindy B. Lauro of New Castle; and one granddaughter.
Visitation will be Sunday and Monday from 4 to 8 p.m. at Ed and Don DeCarbo Funeral Home and Crematory, 3000 Wilmington Road in New Castle. A Mass will be celebrated Tuesday at 11 a.m. in St. Vitus Church, 910 S. Mercer St., New Castle. Interment will be at St. Vitus Cemetery in New Castle.
The family asks memorial contributions be made to the Red Hurricane Club in care of Aven Fire Systems, 10 E. Clayton St., New Castle, PA 16102.
Mike White: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1975. First Published January 14, 2012 5:00 AM