Presented by his wife, Patty
The last two words the Steubenville Big Red football team says before going out on the gridiron prior to a game are "Hard Work." That phrase is a reflection of the man who leads them onto the field named in his honor, Reno Saccoccia.
Reno Saccoccia was born in Steubenville on Aug. 18, 1949, the son of Rinaldo and Helen Saccoccia. He attended St. Anthony's Elementary and Steubenville Catholic Central High School before enrolling at the University of Akron, where he was a member of the Zip's football team. Receiving his degree in 1971, Reno got his first coaching job as an assistant with fellow Crusader Sam Fornsaglio at United Local High School.
Reno also served under former Central grad John Polshaw, who headed the United program from 1972 to 1976, followed by Fred Johnson in 1976. Head Football Coach Bill Bohren then invited Reno to join his staff at Steubenville Big Red in 1977. However, following the season, Bohren was released by Steubenville, but Reno was able to stay in the system, teaching at Harding Junior High School, where he served as both head football and basketball coach.
In 1981, former East Liverpool and Brooke High School Coach Bob Hedmond took over as the number one man at Big Red and invited Reno to be his defensive coordinator, as well as head track coach. During Hedmond's two-year run, Steubenville would make its first of two ventures into the Ohio high school playoffs. With the Big Red football program heading in the right direction, Hedmond stepped down as head coach, opening the door for Reno to become the leader of the Big Red, and a Hall of Fame coaching career was launched.
In his first year as head coach in 1983, Big Red finished 10-0 and made another trip to the playoffs, which ended in the first round with a 13-0 loss to Youngstown Ursuline. But in 1984, the Big Red made their mark in the Ohio playoffs by winning the Division II State Championship with a 12-9 overtime victory over Columbus Whitehall.
Coach Sac's charges would continue making trips to the playoffs for the next seven years, finishing as runners-up in 1987 and 1988 while making four other trips to the semi-finals. During their run, the affable coach and his staff got their 100th victory faster than any other staff in the nation.
The Big Red would continue their winning ways through the 1990s, making additional trips to the playoffs and laying the groundwork for what has been a very successful stretch for their program in the 2000s. The Big Red are currently on a 30-game winning streak, which includes back-to-back 15-0 seasons and Division III state championships in 2005 and 2006. They also have a 40-game regular season winning streak, taking home four consecutive Associated Press poll titles.
In his 24 years as head coach, Reno has a 245-45 overall record, including a 36-14 mark in 17 playoff appearances, earning three state championships, two runners-up and six other semi-final games. Big Red has had ten undefeated regular seasons under Coach Sac.
Coach Saccoccia is quick to give most of the credit for Big Red's success to what he calls "the hardest working coaching staff in the State of Ohio." Most of his assistant coaches have served for many years, with several of the younger members being former players. Offensive coordinator Bob Radakovich has held that position through Reno's entire 24-year career.
Reno has acquired many accolades during his tenure, including being named the Upper Ohio Valley Dapper Dan's Man of the Year on two occasions. He has been the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference's Coach of the Year a record-setting three times, and he has been named the Associated Press Coach of the Year three times.
The Big Red history during Reno's regime is dotted with the names of at least 24 young men he has had the pleasure of seeing gain All-Ohio status. Many of his athletes have gone on to have stellar careers at major colleges, including Buster Tillman and Charlie Keenan at Ohio State, Ryan Terry at Iowa and Rusty Ranallo at Notre Dame, capped off with an endless list of those who have participated at smaller schools across the country.
Reno is married to the former Patty McGinnis of Steubenville. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Fittingly, his son and son-in-laws are all football coaches. His daughter Michelle is married to Jason Kernahan, assistant coach at Martins Ferry, and they have two children, Cade and Jace. Daughter Gina is married to Streetsboro Head Coach John Arlesic. They have three children, Ty, Reagan and Julia. Reno and Patty's son, Jo Jo, is both a former player and now an assistant coach with his father at Big Red. He and his wife, Tricia, have two young ones, Libby and Brody.