Ralph Orsini wanted to bring to stability and success to the Archbishop Hoban High School football program.
He accomplished both during 19 years as coach, but after three consecutive seasons with a below .500 record, Hoban’s administration decided to go in a new direction.
Orsini, 56, will not return next season after his contract was not renewed, but he said Friday that he enjoyed his time leading the Knights.
“When I first took the job [in 1994], one thing I mentioned to Dr. [Mary Anne] Beiting, was that while they had had good teams, one thing they lacked was to have somebody there as head coach for a long period of time,” Orsini said. “John Cistone had been with St. Vincent and St. Vincent-St. Mary for a long time, and Gerry Rardin continues to be with Walsh Jesuit for a long time.
“I talked with Dr. Beiting about being there for an extended period time, and how that was something I planned to do if I got the job.”
Orsini got the job and compiled an overall record of 131-83, including a 14-10 mark in the OHSAA state playoffs, during 19 seasons. He guided Hoban to all 10 of its state playoff appearances, including eight years in a row from 1998 to 2005. The Knights’ 2008 and 2009 teams also reached the playoffs.
The Knights reached the state semifinals in 2002 in Division III and in 2008 in Division II, and they were regional finalists in 1998 in Division III and in 2005 in Division II. The 2002 team posted a 12-2 record and the 2008 team went 9-5.
Orsini posted a 10-7 record against St. V-M. The Knights won nine in a row from 1998-2006, but the Fighting Irish have won the past six.
“Everything about the school I really love, especially the Holy Cross tradition that Hoban has,” Orsini said. “This was the place I wanted to be. I had been an assistant to Mo Tipton for the previous two years.”
Orsini is in his 34th year as a teacher, his 21st at Hoban. He graduated from Steubenville Catholic Central High School in 1974 and Youngstown State University in 1979.
He played offensive and defensive tackle at SCC and played tackle, guard and center at YSU.
“I continue to plan on teaching at Hoban,” Orsini said. “After the first of the year, I will see what I might want to do, and if I want to continue to coach as a head or an assistant. Hoban is a school that I really believe in. I believe in the educational mission of the school, and right now my plan is to continue on that route.”
Orsini is currently teaching government at Hoban after teaching classes in world history, world cultures, religion and United States history.
“For 19 years, Ralph has represented Archbishop Hoban with nothing but class and integrity,” Hoban Athletic Director Michael Del Medico said. “He has been a wonderful role model and father figure for hundreds of young men. He has not only taught them about football, he has also taught them about life. The entire Hoban community is grateful for his years of dedication to the football program and these young men.”
Orsini previously served for six seasons as head coach at Oregon Cardinal Stritch High School in the Toledo area. He also was an assistant at Centerburg High School.
“My first winning season at Hoban was in 1996 and we have had a tremendous run,” Orsini said. “We had young men that might not have always been the greatest athletes and players, but they were kids that played the game very well. They were competitors and played like a football player is expected to play, which is tough and hard-nosed.”
Orsini estimated that approximately 125 of his former Hoban players played at some level of college football, with several earning Division I scholarships.
“We created a tremendous family atmosphere,” Orsini said. “It was great experience, the 19 years at Hoban as head coach. A lot of the young men felt like it was a second home.”
Orsini and his wife, Kathy, have three children. Daughters Erin (23) and Emily (20) are both Hoban graduates and son Dominick (18) is set to graduate from Hoban in the spring.
“I really had outstanding coaches that I worked with over the years and the players really made it a tremendous place to be,” Orsini said.
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MBeavenABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.