Former Ridgway Area High School head coach and Athletic Director Silvio “Benny” Benasutti received a Pennsylvania Football Coaches Association (PFCA) achievement award for his 35 years of service to the school’s football and sports programs.
“Benny is such a great guy. I know he’s been gone from Ridgway for some time, but he definitely left his mark here. He, Denny Heindl, and Frank Grandinetti were the catalysts behind a lot of the stuff that took place up here with our football facilities. Maybe we can get Benny involved here again someday, but again he certainly has left his mark on the school, program, and the community,” said current head coach Mark Heindl who nominated and presented the former coach with the award.
Benasutti, who coached the Elkers from 1974 through 1998, worked at the high school from 1974-2009. Besides being the Athletic Director, the 1993 AML Coach of the Year oversaw discipline at RHS.
Currently an assistant at Brockway he talked about the award.
“It makes me feel good, and it is what it is, but I’m sure there are other people that coached just as long or longer than I and made huge contributions,” he said. “This isn’t just about me. Obviously, we had great kids and great coaching staffs. Let’s face it if you don’t have a good staff, I don’t care who’s the head coach, you’re going to struggle to be successful, so I feel lucky I had those things working for me.”
The Heindl Sports Complex, Field House, and improvements at Memorial Park Field came to fruition under Benasutti’s watch.
“There were so many people that helped make things a reality. You can have an idea, but again you have to have the people that want to help,” he said. “The community of Ridgway, no matter what we wanted to do, they backed us.”
Benasutti paused when asked if there was one squad that stood out during his Ridgway coaching career.
“Oh boy, they kind of all float together. But I guess looking back, in 1989, we were undefeated going against Johnsonburg, and they beat us 48 or 49 to nothing. Two weeks later, we played them down in DuBois for the district championship, and Gary Weber kicked a field goal, and we won 3-0,” former Elkers coach said. “So, it doesn’t make any difference. One week you lose, but you still have to play the next game, and our kids rallied for that. Now looking back, there were so many games where the kids came from behind. It was just great up there, and I really enjoyed it.”
Having been involved in so many Elkers-Rams games, the PFCA achievement award recipient talked about the two programs coming together starting in 2013.
“You still have the old-timers that hated Ridgway and the old-timers that hated Johnsonburg, but now the kids are like best friends, and that’s a good thing to see. It’s just good for football and for both communities, so that’s what you want. You want communities to rally, the kids to enjoy themselves, and hopefully, you get a successful program as they have.”
After leaving Ridgway, Benasutti spent time helping at Brockway (2002-2003) and DuBois (2010-2016) before coming back to help the Rovers. He spoke about still being active coaching.
“I enjoy it, and if I didn’t, I would have quit a long time ago. I think it keeps me young and gives me something to do. I appreciate the kids and the coaching staff who asked me to help after I left Ridgway. Again, I enjoy working with good people, and who knows how long I’ll keep doing it? I guess I’ll keep going until they fire me,” he said with a smile.