New Castle News
NEW CASTLE —
The Laurel High football team has filled its coaching void.
Pat Cuba was named head football coach of the Spartans by the Laurel School Board last night. He was hired by an 8-0 vote to replace longtime coach Jerry Holzhauser, who retired in November.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Cuba said. “I’ve been teaching art at Laurel for 30 years. I’ve been in coaching 30 years, too. I’m excited. I know the kids and I’m looking forward to getting started.”
Holzhauser worked as an assistant coach under coaching legend George Miles for 28 years prior to taking the helm for nine seasons. Miles ran the Laurel program for 32 years and tallied 212 wins prior to retiring after the 2003 season.
“The school has a good tradition already. George Miles and Jerry Holzhauser really started getting the program in the right direction,” Cuba said. “I just want to continue that.”
Cuba, a 1976 New Castle graduate, has an extensive résumé in Lawrence County, most recently as head coach of the Neshannock High football team from 2007 to 2011. The Lancers were 10-2 en route to their first Big 7 Conference championship last season with many players beginning their development under Cuba’s regime. Neshannock finished 5-4 under Cuba in 2011, the program’s first winning record since 2004.
“I can’t say enough good things about those kids. They got a lot of heart, and it showed this year. ” Cuba said. “I took a year off after my resignation. I stepped away from football to see if I would miss it or not. What I discovered was I missed the camaraderie I had with the kids and the idea you can change lives along the way. That’s what I’m in it for. If a kid can come up to me five years from now and still call me coach, I’ve earned his respect.”
What Laurel faithful can expect on the gridiron next season is a team with many borrowed concepts and formations from Cuba’s time with Neshannock.
“We’ll be running multiple offenses,” Cuba said. “I like to go to the option mostly. As far as defensively, I like to play a stack defense and move people around.”
Football has been a part of Cuba life from the start. After playing for the Red Hurricane in his high school career, he took his talents to Westminster College. When his playing days were through, he spent 14 years as an assistant coach for the Titans. He was part of three NAIA national championship teams, playing on Westminster’s 1976 and 1977 squads, and coaching in 1994.
Cuba also served as linebackers coach for four seasons at Slippery Rock University. He worked under former Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians at Temple University for two seasons.
A blank canvas awaits Cuba at Laurel. The Spartans went 4-4 in the Big Seven Conference, 5-4 overall last season. He is hoping strength in numbers will get Laurel back in the playoffs.
“I want to bring more enthusiasm to the program. I want to try to get kids involved again,” he said. “I want about 50 to 55 kids on the team. I want to actively recruit kids and make them want to play football.”