Circosta, Kanzigg honored

One county. Two schools.

Separated by mere miles, Monroe Central and Beallsville high schools have established themselves in recent years as two of the top football programs in the Ohio Valley.

There are a myriad of reasons for that – heart, desire, tremendous community support, a willingness to be the best.

They also have some pretty good head coaches, too. One, a veteran who has pretty much done everything except win a state championship. The other, a veteran coach in the midst of making his mark as the man in charge.

And while the Seminoles’ Jay Circosta and the Blue Devils’ Paul Kanzigg are separated by many years in the experience department, they are quite similar when it comes to being able to build a winner.

Evidence of that was this season when, despite many obstacles, they led their respective squads to postseason berths.

For their efforts, Circosta and Kanzigg have been named The Times Leader Football Co-Coaches of the Year for 2013.

”I’m honored,” Circosta said. ”With that, anytime I receive an honor like this I have to accept it on behalf of the coaching staff and the team. To be successful, it takes everyone.”

For Kanzigg, the it’s his third coaching accolade of the season. He’d previously been tabbed Ohio Division VII Coach of the Year, as well as that of the Eastern District.

”All of this has just been a pleasant surprise,” he said. ”That people think enough of what we’re doing here at Beallsville is wonderful.”

Monroe Central finished 8-4, won the PVC, and advanced to the semifinals of the Ohio Division VI, Region 21 playoffs.

Beallsville concluded the campaign at 6-5 after falling to Glouster Trimble in the opening round of the Region 25 playoffs.

The Seminoles started the season 0-2 before a change at quarterback sparked the team to wins in seven of their last eight regular season games.

”We told them (after the 0-2 start) that when you face adversity there’s basically two ways you can look at it,” Circosta recalled. ”You can feel sorry for yourself or continue to work hard and come back strong.”

Monroe Central chose the latter.

”To come back and win seven or eight and the PVC was rewarding enough, but then to beat (undefeated) Centerburg in the first round of the playoffs was icing on the cake,” Circosta said.

”There’s no doubt about it. This was a special group and one that will be remembered forever.”

The Blue Devils opened their season by being thumped by Madonna, 63-8, in the McDonald’s OVAC Kickoff Night at Kettlewell Stadium. After that, many thought Beallsville wouldn’t enjoy much success..

”People thought we’d be taking beatings like that all year,” Kanzigg said. ”But I knew we were capable of staying with most teams we played.

”I thought we’d win several games and finish above .500.”

The Blue Devils won three three straight following the Madonna loss and then finished the regular season by taking three out of four.

Of the team’s five losses, one came to the West Virginia Class A champion, one came to the Ohio Division VII runner up and another came to the Region 25 finalist.

”The boys really worked there tails off,” Kanzigg said.

Both schools faced adversity before they even put on the pads.

With the Switzerland of Ohio School District facing budgetary constraints, a ‘pay to participate’ policy was enacted. Also, athletic busing was eliminated.

In the end, both communities came together to raise the funds to take care of the transportation issues. But the other issues had an affect in numbers, both on the field and on the sideline.

Kanzigg acknowledged a drop in numbers; he started the season with about 20 players, down from about 30 in 2012.

”It was a struggle to even practice,” Kanzigg said. ”We couldn’t really have full-squad scrimmages.”

He added one of his biggest fears was injuries.

”They’d want to hit, but we’d have to hold them back and stuff sometimes,” Kanzigg said. ”It seemed like someone would be limping or holding something. That really hurts your preparation when you can’t get a good look.

”But, the boys were really good about it. They understood the situation.”

The Seminoles had seven coaches in 2012 and that dropped to four, including Circosta, in 2013. Joining Circosta on the staff were Josh Ischy, Dave Schuerman and Mike Jorris.

”We lost a few coaches, basically the offensive and defensive coaches,” Circosta said. ”The coaches that were left had to assume different roles and they did a good job with that.

”I give them all the credit in the world. I can’t say enough about them.”

Kanzigg, too, had a special relationship with his assistants. Men like Franklin Holley, Dave Wiles, Noah Atkinson, Rusty Lucas, Josh Pittman and Larry Deem.

”I’d have four on game days and through the week one of two guys could usually make it,” Kanzigg said. ”There were a lot of nights when I had to start practice myself.

”Larry and David helped, but they work at the coal mine and it depended on their shift with them, and Franklin lived toward Columbus and he made it to some.”

While it was, in many ways, a patchwork staff, Kanzigg said it was a dedicated group that, when they could make it, was extremely passionate about Beallsville football.

”It’s a close-knit group,” he said.

In fact, both coaches look at their football team like a family.

”They’re almost like your own kids because you spend so much time with them,” Kanzigg said. ”You don’t get to know the personally sometimes when you have a big team.”

Circosta agrees and adds the community into that equation, as well.

”There are so many people that contribute to any success,” he said, acknowledging groups like the football boosters and football moms. ”Everyone seems to have there own little job and on gamenight when you win they all have a part in it.

”I might steer the ship a bit, but it’s everyone out there that makes it what it is.”

Both men also pointed to their own families for allowing them to coach. Circosta mentioned his wife, Donna, while Kanzigg noted his better half, Silvia.

”When this position came open the whole family supported me,” Kanzigg said. ”I couldn’t ask for any better support.”