Marty Slanoc knows he’ll replace a local coaching icon as the new Portage High School football coach.
As a former Mustangs player and long-time assistant to recently retired coach Gary Gouse, Slanoc embraces the challenge.
“I’ve been coaching with Gary for so long it’s almost still strange to me that he’s not going to be there,” Slanoc said.
“It’s an honor for me to be that coach. Obviously we’re going to try to do a lot of the things that helped us be successful. At the same sense I have to make it my own as well, as any coach would.”
The Portage Area School District Board of Directors voted to name Slanoc as head varsity football coach on Wednesday night.
“I’ve known Marty for a long time and I know he cares a lot about our community, school, football program and most importantly, our students,” Portage Athletic Director Jeremy Burkett said. “We are looking forward to Marty continuing the success that Gary Gouse achieved and maintained during his tenure.”
Slanoc was a standout back on Gouse’s Mustangs teams in 1991, 1992 and 1993. He also played baseball for Portage and had a college career on the diamond at California (Pa.) University.
Slanoc, 44, began his football coaching career as a volunteer at Portage in 1999. He was the Mustangs head junior high coach in 2000 and 2001 before coaching one season on the Somerset High School staff, returning to Portage for a year, and then coaching at Shade in 2004.
He returned to Portage as a teacher and coach in 2005 and has been in his hometown since.
“If I was going to be in this area teaching and coaching I wanted to be in the area where I was from and help out the kids like me,” Slanoc said.
Gouse announced his retirement in December after 29 seasons as Portage’s head coach and 40 years on the sidelines overall.
Under Gouse, the Mustangs had 24 winning seasons and a 219-84 record from 1991 (Slanoc’s first season as a varsity player) to 2019.
“I have to say thanks to Coach Gouse,” Slanoc said. “Gary, (assistant coach) Billy Corrente and (assistant coach) Larry McCabe are the three guys that helped mold me and our generation.”
Slanoc said Jeremy and Josh Burkett are two coaches who indicated they would be on his staff.
“Within our staff there are multiple guys who could be a head coach. We all could be the head coach,” Slanoc said. “These are my best friends growing up.
“To be able to coach with them, that means a lot. Josh has been doing the junior high for years. Jeremy will be there. He’s the athletic director and assistant principal.
“Without a good staff, you’re nothing.”
Slanoc and his wife, Alisha, have three children. Daughter Lexi, 14, and sons Easton, 12 and Owen, 9, are students at Portage.