In addition to coaching the New Castle Thunder, Rick Razzano is linebackers coach at Sycamore High in Ohio. — Erica Mihok/NEWS

Rick Razzano had already made a commitment to coach football this fall.

Now he’ll just be a little bit busier than he expected.

The New Castle native had been the defensive coordinator at Milford (Ohio) High School for the past 10 years and was looking forward to taking over as linebackers coach at Sycamore (Ohio) High.

However, when his nephew, Anthony Razzano, called him two months ago about coaching the New Castle Thunder, Rick jumped at the opportunity to give area others a chance to play.

“For me, I wasn’t ready to give up football at age 30,” Rick explained. “I couldn’t imagine that my last game playing this sport was the 3-0 win over Mt. Lebanon at Pitt Stadium in the WPIAL championship at the age 18.

“All these guys want is another opportunity to play. We promised them from Day One that they would play. Now there are guys coming out of the woodwork. There are a lot of guys from this area who love football and who miss it. All they want to do is play.”

In essence, it has been about giving back to his community.

“My uncle has helped so many kids find a way to go to college,” Anthony said. “Who better than someone like him, who knows this area, to head up this team.”

The co-captain of New Castle’s 1973 WPIAL championship team, Rick will commute between Sycamore and New Castle, in order to live up to both obligations. He will spend most week days coaching high school football and return for Thunder games Saturday night.

“I made a commitment in February, and I have to live up to my commitment,” Rick said. “I’ll be leaving for the week and coming back for the games.”

Most of the Thunder coaching duties during the week will fall on his staff, which includes his brother, Bob, the defensive coordinator.

“I guarantee this is one of the top coaching staffs in the country,” Anthony said. “Any of these guys could be coaching at any level, so this is truly a blessing that we have my uncles Rick and Bobby.”

After high school, Rick went on to become one of the nation’s best linebackers at Virginia Tech. He still holds the tackles record for a career (634), season (177) and single-game (30).

Rick went on to play five seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals from 1980 to 1984, which was highlighted by his appearance in Super Bowl XVI in 1981. Before that he spent two seasons (1978-79) with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League.

“Football is football,” said Rick, whose son, Rick Jr., is a fullback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. “I’ve been at every level, and I’ve played on Friday nights, Saturdays, Sundays, Monday nights and I played in a Super Bowl.

“Whenever you leave the game, no matter what age you are, you miss being around the guys in the locker room. You don’t think about it when it’s ending and take it for granted. You don’t really appreciate it until you get out of it.”

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