Feb. 1—The Bongivengo coaching legacy continues.
With Fred Mozzocio leaving the Lancers to pursue the head coaching position at New Castle High School, a former Red Hurricane quarterback and someone Mozzocio coached is taking the reins. Michael Bongivengo, a 2009 New Castle graduate, was unanimously hired to be the Lancers' head coach for the upcoming 2024 season at Thursday's school board meeting.
Bongivengo's grandfather, Frank Bongivengo Sr., coached at Shenango and the field is named after him there. Michael Bongivengo earned second-team all-state and first-team all-conference honors as a player at New Castle under his father, Frank Bongivengo Jr.
"It's a blessing. It really is," Bongivengo said. "Coach Mo has been a family friend of mine and he was one of my coaches (at New Castle). Coach Mo started a great thing here and built a tradition. I'm just honored the township and the community chose me to fill in his shoes. I'm eager for the opportunity and look forward to it. I'm going to do whatever to make sure these men succeed on and off the field, especially off the field. I'm a Neshannock Township guy and I couldn't be happier to lead this program.
"I want to thank the school board, the administration, Dr. (Terence) Meehan and everyone who believes in me. I'm blessed to be in this situation and eager to get to work. I'm very grateful for all of those people and the players. I'm thankful for all of them."
The 33-year-old Bongivengo will have a year-to-year contract. His salary fell under a teacher's contract and was unavailable at press time.
Superintendent Dr. Meehan said any of the four candidates who applied for the position would have been excellent coaches.
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"We had a very nice process through the whole hiring and interviewing. We met some qualified candidates; it was a tough decision," Meehan said. "(Bongivengo) just seems to connect and be the fit for our students and the program. We believe what he does is from the heart. He certainly brings a lot of talent to our district. We had quality candidates. There's no question it was a difficult decision."
After New Castle, Bongivengo played at Slippery Rock University and was later a coach there. After receiving his MBA from Slippery Rock in 2015, Bongivengo coached at Lake Norman High School in North Carolina for three years then spent a year-and-a-half at Fort Mill High School in South Carolina before serving as Westminster College's offensive coordinator from February 2020 until May 2023.
Bongivengo was a Neshannock assistant last season and helped with the quarterbacks and special teams. Now, he said he's looking to continue building off of the Lancers' culture.
"The culture is going to stay the same," Bongivengo said. "Building off of that culture and legacy is an honor."
What's Bongivengo's coaching philosophy? He summed it up with two words: "Be great."
"When it comes to being great, I want them to understand it's not just about we're going to be great in preparation and on the field, but we're also going to be great people in society," he said. "We're going to do the right things in school. Being great is a philosophy I believed in since their age per se. It's my coaching philosophy for these people to be great in everything they do on and off of the field."
Bongivengo said that he will be meeting with the team on Friday and then it's "right back to the weight room on Monday."