High school notebook: Career comes full circle for Greene County legend
Jefferson-Morgan’s new boys basketball coach is a familiar face.
One with an impressive athletic pedigree, too.
Dennis Garrett, who helped Jefferson-Morgan win a pair of WPIAL football titles in the 1970s, was hired to replace Chris Niemiec at a school board meeting earlier this week, and he’s banking on his experience as a Greene County athlete to turn around a program that has averaged 5 1/2 wins a year for the past 10 years.
“More than anything, I think you have to have the fundamentals,” Garrett said. “You’ve got instill the want back into it and the pride back into it. The pride isn’t missing, but I don’t think it’s ever been established. It’s all about pride and determination.”
Garrett graduated from Jefferson-Morgan in 1975, having led the football team to a pair of undefeated seasons and WPIAL Class A championships in 1973 and 1974.
In hoops, Garrett was the first Rockets player to eclipse 1,000 points and finished with 1,356 during a three-year career (he played junior high ball in ninth grade).
One of nine children, Garrett chose the better financial option and wound up playing football, baseball and running track – he still holds several school records at Jefferson-Morgan – at Waynesburg College.
Garrett entered the football coaching ranks at his college alma mater in 1981, staying through 1994 before coaching with John Luckhardt at Washington & Jefferson College from 1994-98.
Garrett was the boys basketball coach at Jefferson-Morgan for a couple years in the 1980s, but he said he didn’t remember the exact dates.
Or many wins.
“No, seriously. I don’t,” Garrett said. “I know we weren’t very good. My star player was Dave Palone, and he’s a harness racer.”
After coaching at Beth-Center (1998-2006), Garrett brought his career full circle when he became a Jefferson-Morgan football assistant in 2006.
“I think I’m going to try and finish my career at home,” Garrett said.
A 31-year employee of Equitable Gas and a longtime basketball official, Garrett plans on talking to his team about “a passion for the game and the fun of the game.”
Jefferson-Morgan finished 6-8 in Section 5-AA last season, 11-12 overall and lost in the first round of the WPIAL Class AA playoffs.
Overall, the Rockets are 55-164 in the past 10 years, but Garrett thinks he’ll be able to change the culture quite a bit.
“Some of the games you’re not supposed to win, but if you play with passion and desire, you never know what can happen,” Garrett said. “That’s the way you have to look at it.”
The Monessen football team replaced its Imani Christian game with a trip to Maryland to play Mountain Ridge High School in Frostburg, Md., on Oct. 11 at 7 p.m.
After winning WPIAL and PIAA Class AAA doubles titles last fall, Peters Township juniors Sara Komer and Abby Cummings are not playing high school tennis this season.
Komer is playing volleyball, and Cummings is ramping up her tennis schedule.
Peters Township, which has won four of the past seven PIAA team championships, started its season with a 4-1 loss to North Allegheny in non-section action Thursday night.
Freshman Anna Komer suffered a straight-sets loss at No. 1 singles, and sophomore Chloe Grzyb lost in three at No. 2 singles. Junior Jen Holcombe and sophomore Megan Hixon did win at No. 1 doubles.