North: Butschle steps down as coach at Sto-Rox
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Ron Butschle struggled with pulling the trigger, but he knows in his heart he made the right decision.
For as much as it pains him not to be coaching the Sto-Rox football team again this season, however, there's one thing that causes Butschle no consternation.
"I miss the football team everyday," Butschle said, "but I know the program is in good hands with Dan."
"Dan" is Dan Bradley, Butschle's former assistant who was hired last week as the head coach of the Vikings after Butschle resigned for personal reasons earlier this summer. He is an Ohio Township resident.
"It was a really hard decision for me," said Butschle, who has coached Sto-Rox during 16 of the past 22 seasons. "But I'm thankful that the school has hired Dan and kept the staff together because what I didn't want to have happen is for all everything we worked for the past couple years to all of a sudden get turned upside down because of my personal circumstances."
Sto-Rox went undefeated during the regular season last year, advancing to the WPIAL Class A championship game. That was Butschle's second season back with the Vikings, whom he coached until 2004, when he left for a stint at Seneca Valley.
Because of some health issues with members of his family, Butschle said he just couldn't dedicate the time to coach this season.
"My prayers go out to Ron and his family; he's had a rough year," Sto-Rox athletic director Bill Minear said.
"The coaching staff really hasn't changed, and I think the kids are comfortable with coach Bradley, and he's comfortable with our community and our policies and philosophies. I don't think [the change in coaches so late in the offseason] will be much of a problem."
Although a coaching change was made less than a month before the start of preseason camp -- Bradley was hired from among four strong finalists, Minear said -- the transition figures to be smoother than most because of Bradley's familiarity with the program.
Bradley, who turns 42 next week, is a native of Washington, Pa., having played his high school ball for the Little Prexies under coach Guy Montecalvo. This is his first head coaching job, though he has spent about a decade's worth of time under Butschle.
Bradley cites Montecalvo, Butschle and South Fayette coach Joe Rossi as those he's worked with whom are his major influences.
"I think anytime there's a change of leadership at the top, there's a ripple down effect," said Bradley, formerly the offensive coordinator. "There will be some new things, but at the same time a lot of things that will remain the same.
"Ron and I talk regularly, and I'm sure we will talk regularly during the season. Our personal relationship will remain the same, but it will take a backseat to the interests of the kids so they know that there is a change at the top right now.
"Change can be difficult, but things will move on ... Our first goal is ultimately to win the conference [title] and hopefully get back to Heinz and have another shot at Clairton."
The Vikings must replace several starters on defense, but several key pieces of a "pro-spread" style offense that averaged 39.8 points per game last season remain.
"Physicality, I think, is the best trait any football team can have," Bradley said. "When it's 3rd and 1 and you run power on the right side and the other team knows it and they still can't stop you ... You have to throw the ball when you have to and throw when you want, but we'll be a tough, physical team."
Butschle, who still holds his job as a teacher at Seneca Valley, intends on spending more time with his family. He added, "at some point, I'd love to be back" in coaching.
For the immediate future, however, he'll be merely cheering the Vikings on.
"We have a good program that's been built up," Bradley said.
"It's at the point where we can just reload instead of rebuild, but depth, right now, is an issue."
First Published August 2, 2012 12:00 am