East Xtra: New Norwin coach hunts right formula

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As a chemistry teacher at Norwin High School for 18 years, Dave Brozeski regularly talks to his students about things such as protons, neutrons and electrons, chemical compounds and equations.

His newest assignment, however, is teaching a group of young men how to win football games.

Brozeski, 39, was hired as the school's new football coach in April. An assistant coach at Norwin for the past 17 seasons -- most recently as defensive coordinator -- Brozeski takes the reins of a program that won just four games over the past three seasons under the veteran Art Tragesser.

"I'm very thankful for the opportunity," said Brozeski, a Blairsville native who now resides in North Huntingdon with his wife and four children. "I think one of the top moments you can have is when the school district has confidence in you. I'm very excited."

Brozeski replaces Tragesser, who resigned in February. Tragesser, who had experienced a great deal of success in previous coaching stints at Penn-Trafford and Jeannette, was just 9-28 in four seasons at Norwin.

He took the Knights to the playoffs his first season, but went winless a year later. They finished 2-7 the past two seasons.

Tragesser ended a 27-year run as a head coach with a 165-113-3 record.

This coaching change will not require the new man in charge to introduce himself to his players. In this case, they already know each other very well. Head coaches have come and gone, but Brozeski has remained one of the few constants.

That certainly didn't hurt Brozeski's case when being considered for a job that had about 50 applicants. The school board voted unanimously, 9-0, to hire him.

"Obviously, coach Brozeski knows all of our athletes and they know him," Norwin athletic director Brandon Rapp said. "There's certainly a familiarity there. That was evident from day one."

Brozeski has held multiple coaching roles in the school district. Early on, he was a middle school and ninth-grade basketball coach. He has been a varsity track assistant for 15 years, focusing on coaching the throwers.

Football, though, has been his first love.

After graduating from Washington & Jefferson College, Brozeski was an assistant at Derry Area for one season before finding a home on Norwin's staff.

An assistant for so many years, Brozeski hoped to land a head coaching role at some point.

His opportunity has arrived.

"I've coached for 18 years. Every coach has in the back of his mind, 'What would it be like to be a head coach?'" Brozeski said. "Over the years, I've learned from a lot of great coaches. I'm excited for the opportunity. I'm looking forward to working with the kids and working with the community."

Brozeski joins his brother, Brian, as varsity head coaches at Norwin. Brian, who is three years younger than Dave, will enter his fourth season as girls basketball coach. Brian will also serve as a volunteer assistant on Dave's football staff.

With his deep defensive background, Dave Brozeski will call the defensive plays with the help of assistants Tim McCabe and Steve Socrates. Eli Visnic, a former head coach at Franklin Regional, will be the offensive coordinator.

It's on offense where Norwin will need to make its biggest strides. The Knights weren't bad defensively last season, giving up 22.3 points per game. But on offense, they averaged only 11.9 and were held to single digits in all but three games.

"We're going to have multiple defensive fronts and multiple offensive fronts," Brozeski said. "It sounds cliché, but it really comes down to blocking and tackling. Also ball security, and on defense, taking the ball away."

Rapp said that Brozeski's enthusiasm could play a key role in the team's improvement.

"One thing that stands out about him is the passion he has for Norwin High School," Rapp said.

"He's a teacher in our high school. He's a coach. Just everything he does screams how passionate he is about our school."

Norwin begins the season at home in a Foothills Conference game against Greater Latrobe, a team the Knights defeated, 21-13, last season.

Brozeski knows he has a challenge ahead of him, but believes he knows what the primary step will be in helping turn the program around.

Said Brozeski: "If we can come together as a team, all the other things can take care of themselves."


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