East Xtra: Former assistant Cappa new Riverview head coach

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The past seven years, Riverview football witnessed little success, compiling a 20-46 record under Todd Massack.

In his defense, the Raiders compete in Class A in the Eastern Conference where they are the David amongst more than one Goliath.

But the athletic department saw a change needed to be made after the school recorded five wins in the past three years combined.

In the midst of the change, athletic director Bob Kariotis turned to a familiar face. Jason Cappa will be taking over as a head coach for the first time after spending many years as an assistant.

"When I was being interviewed for head football job, I talk about not coaching one part of the game," Cappa said. "I want to be involved in all facets of the game. Being well-rounded helped me."

Cappa began his coaching career right out of college when he became an assistant at Riverview under his dad, the late Jake Cappa, who passed away in May.

"I coached for a couple years with my dad after college," Cappa said. "I was an assistant and then special teams and strength coordinator the first two years. The second year with my dad I started running the offense with him."

Cappa, a 1995 graduate of Riverview, made a change and coached the offensive line and linebackers under his brother, John Cappa, at Shady Side Academy for a year.

After one year, Cappa rejoined his dad, at South Allegheny this time, where he was offensive coordinator.

From there, his coaching career continued to escalate when he was contacted by then Riverview head coach Joe Rossi. Rossi was coming off the best year of his career, leading South Fayette to the Class AA state championship.

Cappa returned to Riverview under Rossi where he started out as special teams coach and moved up to defensive coordinator for the past seven years.

Under Rossi's tutelage Cappa learned that as much as you know as a coach, your knowledge of the game can always be expanded.

"One thing I learned from Joe is that he never stopped learning," Cappa said. "He wasn't afraid to ask for help and ask other coaches for suggestions.

"He was still talking to my dad during his title run last year. You can always add to what you know about the game. Learning from other coaches will help me in the long run."

While as an assistant under his dad, Cappa learned that football is important, but helping these young kids in life is the real goal.

"My dad was so successful in starting the program," Cappa said. "My dad is always proud of us and he would be proud to this day with how we are running the program and helping others.

"A lot of things he did had a lot more impact than just football. As football coaches we don't just teach football. We help these young men become productive citizens and good husbands and brothers and fathers. There are more important things in life than just football.

"Former players would always come back and talk to my dad after they played for him. They always tell me about the positive influence my dad had on their lives."

Cappa is taking over for a team that has seen little success in the past few years, but good or bad, he chooses to not speak about the past and focus on the here and now.

"We are not talking about what happened in the past, good or bad," Cappa said. "We are holding them to high standards on what we want them to accomplish.

"We have an attitude and hunger to win. We want to make the playoffs and focus on one game at a time. We don't want good plays, we want exceptional plays.

"One thing about our community, whether we had winning or losing seasons, we all expect to win. When I played we expected to win. They are ready for a program that is going to take the next step and bring the winning tradition back to Riverview."

The Raiders are returning a few key starters in senior quarterback Tyler Nigro, senior tight end and inside linebacker Jake Massack, senior fullback and inside linebacker Dillon Provenza and sophomore running back Nassan Tibbens.

Riverview's main concern is the offensive line.

"Our biggest area of work is offensive and defensive line," Cappa said. "Every winning team starts on the line and that's where we focused. We also moved guys around to build our offensive line.

"We will know a lot more once we put the pads on."

The Raiders will put the pads on for their first game Aug. 29 when they travel to Eastern Conference foe Jeannette.

"We have a very tough conference," Cappa said. "It might be the toughest conference in all WPIAL in any classifications. I might be biased. We have four teams that are use to being WPIAL champions.

"Every team is very competitive. From top to bottom on our schedule there is no easy game. The key is if we take it one game at a time we should be fine."

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