BY KEVIN WOODRUFF
Montrose Area High School assistant principal Russell Canevari was selected Monday night as the head coach of the Meteor varsity football program.
The MA school board set his salary at $4,160 effective the beginning of the fall sports season. He will resign his position as assistant principal and head back into the classroom as a teacher.
Canevari, 36, of Jessup, replaces Jack Keihl, who resigned last fall following an 0-10 season. The Meteors will enter the 2011 season with an 18-game losing streak, the region’s longest.
Canevari is a former Valley View high school standout, who played on the team that won the PIAA state championship in the fall of 1992.
He went on to play baseball at Bloomsburg University with his first coaching assignment at Wallenpaupack’s as junior high football coach under current varsity leader Mark Watson.
He went on from 2001 to 2006 to serve as assistant football coach at Montrose under Tom Lucenti.
“I hope to move the program back to where it used to be,” Canevari said, “and get more kids to come out to the program.”
Canevari said that some of his goals for the program include turning young men into valuable members of the community, get kids into college to play football and to win football games.
“If I can do all of those things, winning football games would be the icing on the cake,” Canevari said.
Canevari said that as far as getting more kids to come out for the team, he will be focused on doing some recruiting.
“We’ve been trying to meet with some kids and talk about the advantages of joining up,” Canevari said, “and hopefully get some kids out who have never played before.”
Canevari said that his coaching philosophy from the get-go will be to focus on the fundamentals of the game.
“I want the team to be disciplined about using fundamentals of the game and avoiding penalties,” Canevari said. “From there I think we can start moving into some more complex ideas.”
He said that he would like to implement an increased focus on passing the football, as well as using the ground game.
“I want us to be more balanced on offense,” Canevari said.
As far as defense, he is looking to incorporate a base package that is fundamentally sound.
“I want us to be able to cover schools that are more passing oriented,” Canevari said, “and use offensive and defensive schemes that will utilize our athletes’ abilities.”
Canevari said that his ideal first season would be to take the Meteors to the state championship, however, he looks to move the team forward in a positive progression.
“I hope for a season that produces a positive progression,” Canevari said. “One that gets more kids out to play, and boosts up our numbers.”
In showing a positive progression, Caneveri believes that it is important to get the Meteor junior high program back on track.
While Caneveri said he isn’t sure what exactly is causing a decrease in the number of athletes, he attributes it to a few factors.
“I think that kids are losing interest in team sports,” Canevari said. “Many athletes are focusing on more individual activities.
“Some of it may also have to do with the economic crunch as of late.”
Whatever the outcome of his first season on the gridiron, Canevari said that he looks forward to getting to work with the athletes at Montrose.
“I think that my greatest advantage in all of this is that I know the kids,” Canevari said. “I know their academic standing and I know their families.”
Joining Canevari’s football coaching staff, also selected Monday night, were assistant football coaches who each had college playing experience.
Mike Boccella (Bucknell), Sean Castellani (Wilkes), Sean Madden (Iona, Wilkes) and Sami Bourizk (Lycoming) at a salary of $3,071; James Buchman (Connecticut, Bloomsburg) as head junior high football coach at a salary of $2,389; and Nick Boccella (Bloomsburg) as assistant junior high football coach at a salary of $2,080.
Scranton Times-Tribune writer Joby Fawcett also contributed to this story