New Castle News

New Castle

April 25, 2012

High School Football: Cowart, Clark front-runners for New Castle coaching job

NEW CASTLE — One of eight men will be introduced as the football coach at New Castle High tomorrow night.

The battle for the job to replace Frank Bongivengo Jr. as coach appears to have come down to two candidates — Joe Cowart and Bruce Clark.

Both are former New Castle High football standouts. Cowart, 31, is a 1999 graduate who was a star quarterback for the Red Hurricane before going on to play at Allegheny College in Meadville. Clark, 54, starred for the ’Canes in the mid-1970s, before taking his talents to Penn State University, where he won the Lombardi Award in his junior year of 1978 as the nation’s best college football lineman.

Cowart apparently has emerged from a battle with two of his former teammates and fellow New Castle assistant coaches — Pat Cain and Nick Marmo.

All three said yesterday that they will support whoever gets the job.

“I feel I had an excellent interview and left there with a positive feeling,” Cowart said. “I know that I gave it my best shot, so I feel good about that part no matter the outcome.

“I’ve told Pat and Joe all along that if one of us gets the job, we will be a three-headed monster,” he added. “We started out playing together (Cowart and Cain were a year ahead of Marmo in high school), we’ve remained close friends and most recently we’ve coached together. We’re very comfortable with each other.”

Cowart was a varsity assistant at New Castle last season. He is the only one of the candidates to teach in the junior-senior high building — he is a junior high math teacher and high school video teacher. A great-nephew to late New Castle coaching legend Lindy Lauro, Cowart also coaches track at New Castle.


Cain and Marmo, meanwhile, both are elementary teachers in the district and coached New Castle’s ninth-grade football team this past season.

“I’m extremely happy with how my interview went,” Cain said. “New Castle football means a lot to me and what is most important is that I continue to coach here. I would love to have the (head coaching) job, but I will be just as happy if Nick or Joe get it.

“We get along so well,” he added, “I just think we would all complement each other on a varsity coaching staff together.”

Marmo agreed.

“I thought my interview went pretty well,” he said. “I’m excited to get the opportunity. I think we’re all hoping to get the job, but if not, the new head coach will have two great assistants working with him.”

If Cowart does get the nod, this will be perhaps the most memorable week of his life.

His wife, Meghan, was in labor last night with their first child, a boy.

“I’m pretty much on top of the world right now,” Cowart said via cellphone from Meghan’s bedside. “This is a really exciting time for me.”

There were a total of 16 applicants. Eight of the original applicants were granted interviews. New Castle Superintendent George Gabriel said the district would not confirm the names of those interviewed.

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