You really can go home again.
Ask Anthony Sottasante.
The 1989 Donegal grad, and former Indians’ football player and assistant coach, is heading back to his old stomping grounds in Mount Joy, this time as the program’s head pigskin coach.
Sottasante, who previously coached in the Lancaster-Lebanon League for Columbia, gained school-board approval on Thursday to become Donegal’s next skipper, replacing Chad Risberg, who guided the Indians to a 26-22 record over the past five seasons. He stepped down in December.
Enter Sottasante, who knows his way around the L-L League’s back roads.
“My goal was always to get back to the Lancaster-Lebanon League,” he said. “I have some great friends who coach at various schools around the league who I really respect a lot. It’s just a great league. It’s very competitive. Donegal is where I grew up, so this is a dream come true.”
Sottasante, a 53-year-old York County resident, has put together quite the coaching resume, and it all started at Donegal back in 1997, when he coached running backs and linebackers for two years for the Indians. He’s also had two stints at Thaddeus Stevens College, from 2002-05 as the special teams coordinator and offensive assistant, and from 2012-14, when Sottasante was the quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator for the Bulldogs.
He’s served as head coach at three high schools: Columbia, from 2015-17, Tussey Mountain, in District Five, from 2018-20, and most recently at Mt. Union in District 6, for the last two seasons. Sottasante guided Mt. Union into the D6 playoffs last fall, and he’ll inherit a Donegal squad that went to the D3-4A playoffs the last two seasons.
Columbia went 2-27 under his three-year watch, and Sottasante also served as running backs coach at York Suburban from 2008-09, and he was the offensive coordinator at Kennard-Dale from 2010-12.
He’s put a lot of mileage on a lot of vehicles in his time.
Sottasante played for Gayne Deshler at Donegal back in the day, and the program has remained pretty much status quo in the scheme department over the years. Sottasante said he plans on keeping the Indians’ patented run-first offensive attack, with a triple-option look out of a pistol formation.
“We’ll run the triple option, but we’ll keep elements of the Wing-T, including the belly packages,” he said. “It will be an option offense with Wing-T characteristics.”
Sottasante was quick to rattle off the coaches he played for and learned from at Donegal. Deshler, Jeff Polites. Bill Groff. Now he’ll be walking in their shoes.
“I was constantly keeping an eye on what’s going on in the L-L League the whole time,” Sottasante said. “If something opened up and I thought I was a good enough candidate for it, I’d apply. And then let the chips fall.”
This time, the chips landed at Donegal. Now, Sottasante would like to put down some roots and stick around his alma matter for a while, as the Indians will embark on their second season in the jam-packed Section 4 race in the fall.
“I’m really excited,” Sottasante said. The schedule is probably the toughest it’s been at Donegal going all the way back. But with the elevated schedule, that means elevating the programs. More commitment from the players. More commitment from the coaches and the community. Donegal has always had tough kids who are dedicated to football. That’s the foundation right there. Without that, it’s hard to get to the next level.”
There are two more coaching vacancies in the L-L League: Octorara and Daniel Boone are both open. Octorara is hoping to start its interviewing phase this month.
Donegal, Octorara, Daniel Boone all in the market for new head football coaches in L-L League circles