New Castle’s Joe Cowart quits after 10 seasons, sends 2 ex-players to NFL


Wednesday, February 9, 2022 | 3h30

Few WPIAL football coaches have had two former NFL players active at the same time, but New Castle’s Joe Cowart did so during his coaching tenure, which ended this winter.

Cowart stepped down at the end of January after 10 seasons as New Castle football coach, but will continue to lead the school’s athletics team. His football teams have compiled a career record of 55-48. They have reached the WPIAL playoffs eight times, including last fall when the Red Hurricanes went 7-5.

“My son is 9. My daughter is 7. I want to be more involved in what they do,” Cowart said. “I felt it was time to close the chapter and move in a different direction.

“We had a good race.”

His best season came in 2016 when New Castle went 8-5 and finished second in the WPIAL 4A class. The championship game appearance was the program’s first since 1998, when Cowart was still on the roster.

Cowart said he and his team are most proud of the number of athletes who later played in college, a list that includes current NFL players Malik Hooker (Ohio State) and Geno Stone (Iowa).

Hooker, a 2017 NFL first-round pick, played this season for the Dallas Cowboys. Stone played for the Baltimore Ravens and, on January 9, had the last career interception thrown by retired Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

“When we look back, we can see the impact we left on student-athletes who reached quite high heights,” Cowart said. “Obviously there are two guys in the NFL, but also a lot of kids who went on to play football (in college), and some who are now coaching football. That couldn’t be more exciting for a guy like me who loves the game.”

Cowart could coach again in the future, saying he resigned as coach but has not retired. He will also continue to teach in the district.

“I’ve been here for about 15 years,” said Cowart, who was an assistant before becoming head coach, “and enjoyed every minute.

More than 20 WPIAL schools will change football coaches this winter. Among them Jacque DeMatteo of Cowart and Hampton quit after staying at a school for a decade or more.

Some schools have already found their next coach including Ellwood City (Dan Bradley), Frazier (Mike Shannon), Imani Christian (LaRoi Johnson), Jeannette (Thomas Paulone), Knoch (Tim Burchett), Derry (Mike Arone), Sto-Rox (Marvin Mills) and Pine-Richland (Jon LeDonne).

Connellsville, Indiana, Keystone Oaks, Latrobe, Mars, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Southmoreland, Penn Hills, Ringgold, South Allegheny, Springdale, Quaker Valley and Valley were also seeking candidates this winter.

At Mars, the school board opened up the footballer’s position to applicants, but current coach Scott Heinauer said he would reapply.

Southmoreland had intended to promote assistant Ron Frederick to head coach, but the 1999 graduate died on February 3.

Chris Harlan is an editor of the Tribune-Review. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .


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