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Twist at Trinity: Dalton rehired

Posted Friday, February 18, 2011 by Ed Dalton

Twist at Trinity: Dalton rehired

2/18/2011 3:31 AM

For the third time since 1999, Ed Dalton has been hired as Trinity High School's varsity football coach.

Fired by Trinity Area School Board in December 2009 and again in January, Dalton was hired by a 6-3 vote at Thursday's meeting as long as certain conditions are met by March 3.

That means the hiring is not a done deal.

Over the summer, Dalton filed a suit against the board for terminating his athletic director contract and moving him to a teaching position. Last week, the teachers union filed a grievance, saying that Dalton was not properly notified of his January termination as football coach.

School board member Jack Keisling said after Thursday's meeting that both of those issues must be resolved for Dalton to get the coaching position. He said Dalton may have issues that he wants resolved by the board as well.

Trinity solicitor Dennis Makel said if the issues are not resolved by the March 3 meeting, the decision will be revisited.

Keisling, who made the motion to rehire Dalton, said that if the issues are taken care of, he doesn't believe the board will again bring up the idea of getting rid of the coach.

"At least six of us are happy that it's resolved," he said. "It's been too time-consuming and too upsetting for too long."

It's a twist in a lengthy saga that included the lawsuit, union grievance and multiple board meetings where Dalton's loyal, vocal supporters attended in mass.

"This literally is the craziest thing," Dalton said. "It's something that we have to get past. I don't want to rehash what's happened, and I know we've never won a world championship, but we have to get over it and move on."

Dalton did not attend Thursday's meeting. Instead, he watched his daughter, Andrea, a standout player on the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown's women's basketball team.

During the game, Dalton received a phone call from a supporter in attendance.

"I got the call as they read. I heard all the applause. That's when I knew," he said. "I knew people were fighting but, to be honest, when I met with the kids two weeks ago, I told the kids to move on and support the new coach. People didn't stop fighting."

Dalton did not want to speak on the record about the union grievance or a lawsuit he filed against the district in July. Washington County Judge Katherine Emery has ruled the suit can move forward.

"I love Trinity," he said. "Both my daughters graduated from Trinity, and I have a great life because of Trinity. I don't want to be the guy in the middle of tearing it apart."

Keisling said he's always wanted Dalton to be football coach - he just didn't think that the district's athletic director should also be a coach.

"He has a winning record," Keisling said. "The public likes him. The youngsters like him."

Board member Scott Day was one of three who voted against bringing Dalton back.

"I have not changed my vote through the whole process," he said. "I'm just being consistent."

Keisling and board members Henry Clemens, Ronald Harton, Dennis McWreath, Jim Knapp and Tamara Salvatori voted to bring Dalton back. Day and board members Sandy Clutter and Colleen Interval voted against it.

The decision came after several residents and football players again pleaded with the board to rehire Dalton as coach.

Former Trinity quarterback Mike Wall, who later played at the University of Tulsa, was believed to be the preferred candidate to replace Dalton, who was fired at the Jan. 20 meeting by a 5-4 vote.

Rich Piccinini, a former head football coach at North Catholic, was a finalist for the job, but the board did not vote on him.

Dalton is credited with turning around a once-dismal football program.

He went 1-9 in his first season before Trinity made the playoffs in Dalton's second and third seasons. The Hillers won playoff games in 2005 and 2007, which doubled the school's postseason total.

Trinity qualified for the playoffs six consecutive seasons through 2010 - one of four teams out of 31 competing in WPIAL Class AAA to accomplish the feat. Dalton owns an overall record of 59-56 at Trinity and produced a long line of college players, including seven seniors on the 2010 roster. Copyright Observer Publishing Co.

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