New Castle News

May 30, 2013

High School Football: Stars to speak at New Castle camp

Andrew Petyak
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Past, present and future gridiron stars will be on the field at Taggart Stadium on Saturday.

The New Castle Pop Warner football program will host the Rising Star Football Clinic for youths entering grades 3-8. The clinic will include speed and agility drills, live games and more. It also will feature three prominent sports figures who will serve as guest speakers and coaches — Youngstown State University assistant coach Mark Mangino, eight-year NFL veteran Darnell Dinkins and former NFL wide receiver and Penn State star Bobby Engram.

 Registration for the program begins at 8 a.m. at the stadium with a cost of $50 for one player and $10 for any additional sibling.

“We’re trying to build a relationship between the varsity program and the Pop Warner program,” New Castle High coach Joe Cowart said. “This is an olive branch for us to do that. It’s all part of building a program and building things to the degree that we’re one family.

“There are three headliners at the camp that will be there to meet and talk with course of the day. Not only are they headliners, they’re really big in the professional world in football and influential in leading youth. We have a double whammy of good people.”

The camp officially begins with introductions of coaches and a speech by Dinkins at 9 a.m. Dinkins, a Pittsburgh native, played college ball at the University of Pittsburgh before spending the next eight seasons in the NFL. He retired in the 2009 season, but not before earning a Super Bowl ring with the Saints.

After a morning practice, which includes a warm-up and flex, participants will spend the next two hours working on offensive drills before recessing to a provided lunch.

Current ’Canes athletes and football stars will lend an active hand in coaching at the camp. Those expected to attend are Malik Hooker, Julian Cox, Drew Allen, Stew Allen and more. Also expected are a group of past New Castle greats such as Allan Jackson, Frank Antuono and Nick Marmo.

“They’re always up for things of that nature. We’re trying to as best we can make it so the kids look up to those guys,” Cowart said. “We want the kids to look forward to being a varsity Red Hurricane. A lot of our varsity guys will be running drills. Those guys will be helping in all aspects of the day.

“It’s been quite an undertaking,” Cowart added. “We were just looking to kind of build this connection between the youth in the community. It’s ambitious, but nothing that hasn’t been done before. We’re just going to try to do it really well. We’re lucky enough to have some headliners at it to get some young people there. We’re going to try to be as professional as possible and make it a fun afternoon for all the kids.”

After lunch, New Castle’s own Mark Mangino will deliver a speech. Mangino was named 2007 National Coach of the Year for his work in guiding the University of Kanasas football program to 20-consecutive wins in a two-year period.

“He was all for it. Coach Mangino has always bent over backward to help our community,” Cowart said. “We asked a lot of people and these guys went out of their way to do it.”

Craig Anderson, commissioner of the New Castle Pop Warner Program, helped spearhead the event with Pat Minenok and Patsy Cioppa. It was a two-prong effort for Anderson to not only provide funding to the Pop Warner program, but to give back to the community.

“I want to keep these kids out of the street. New Castle is known as a place for football. It used to be when people see New Castle on their schedule they would cringe, I want to get it back to that,” he said. “Everybody was taught from grade school all the way the same. Now we’re getting guys who are getting looked at by Division I programs. The kids see that. That’s what Joe Cowart and our staff are able to help make happen.”

A special team picture will be taken of every participant and the coaches following lunch, of which each participant will receive a free 8x10 version of along with a camp T-shirt.

Defensive drills will begin the second half of the day and conclude with team competitions in the form of an obstacle course and tug-of-war.

After a closing speech by the camp coaches, awards will be handed out to winning teams and individuals before camp is dismissed around 3 p.m.

“We don’t want to turn anybody away,” Anderson said. “We want people to come out and play and enjoy. To get a response from Bear (Mangino) Bobby and an overwhelming response from all the New Castle greats helping me out with this camp, it’s a little overwhelming. At the end of the day when I see kids on the football field with a New Castle jersey on, I’ll know it was worth it.”

For additional information on the camp, call (412) 926-9242.