CANFIELD -- Art Massaro of Canfield thinks he knows why he didn't make the Pittsburgh Steelers team during a 1953 tryout after starring at Washington and Jefferson College.
"I felt that I had a shot, but we never scrimmaged," said Massaro, noting that he was in camp only 21/2-3 weeks after being drafted in the 27th round. "I left so fast."
So Massaro, an Ursuline High graduate and former Canfield and Jackson-Milton High football coach, never got a chance to show the Steelers the same talent that he displayed at W & amp;J as a ball carrier and kicker his senior season in 1952.
That year, he scored 11 touchdowns and kicked nine extra points for 75 points, and caught 10 passes for 418 yards, to lead the Presidents to a 5-1 record for their best mark in more than 11 years. He was named to the Pittsburgh Press All-District Team.
Played at Ursuline
"I think they [the Steelers] drafted me as a receiver and punt returner because I played wingback and caught a lot of passes," said Massaro, who played for W & amp;J from 1949-53 after successful preparation at Ursuline High under coach Tom Carey.
"Luckily, I had a good game against Carnegie Tech, whose coach knew the Steelers staff, and I think that's how I got drafted."
But Massaro wasn't the only area player that the Steelers cut in 1953. Also in the camp and dropped were Art DeCarlo (Georgia and East High), Nick Bolkovac (Pitt and Woodrow Wilson High) and Al Bodine (Georgia and East High).
"Bodine had been playing in the Canadian Football League and came down to try out with Pittsburgh," recalled Massaro, who also had the distinction of being cut with a player who went on to become famous.
"Johnny Unitas was in camp [too], was cut, then played a year of semi-pro ball in Pittsburgh, and the next year he tried out for Baltimore." Unitas, of course, went on to become an NFL Hall of Fame quarterback with the Colts.
Ed DiGregorio, the YSU women's basketball coach who was on the same football team at East with Bodine under coach Dick Barrett, recalled that Bolkovac and DeCarlo both eventually made it to the NFL with the Steelers and Colts, respectively.
In W & amp;J Hall of Fame
But although Massaro may have been shortchanged of an opportunity to play for the Steelers, he has gained some compensation recently for his achievements at W & amp;J.
A three-year letterman for the Presidents who played both offense and defense, Massaro, 71, was inducted into the W & amp;J Athletic Hall of Fame two Sundays ago at the W & amp;J Athletic Hall of Fame Banquet. He was one of 10 persons and one team to make the 2002 induction class.
After failing to make the Steelers, Massaro returned to W & amp;J and coached as a graduate assistant for one year before entering the U.S. Army.
"I was in the Army for two years active duty and four years reserves," said Massaro, who returned to Ursuline after his Army stint for his first high school football coaching and teaching assignment.
He served as an assistant under Carey for one year, then shifted to Fowler High as an aide and then to Jackson-Milton High for his first head coaching job, before moving to Canfield High in 1968.
Carey recalled Massaro as "an old Briar Hill boy and an outstanding fullback and linebacker."
The Canfield years
Massaro spent 18 years at Canfield, coaching football and track and teaching geometry and Spanish.
He was head football coach from 1969-75, and earned his master's degree from Westminster in 1975. That year, he left football to became assistant principal at Canfield until his retirement in 1986.
Massaro said the highlight of his Canfield career was "the opportunity to work with excellent young men and women."
His son, Art Massaro Jr., graduated from Canfield in 1985 and went to Virginia Military Academy where played football and wrestled and earned a degree in electrical engineering.
Massaro and his wife, the former Marcella Rohman, also have three married daughters: Karen Marie Mundt, Anne Riggs and Judy Guju. Marcella is a 1951 Ursuline graduate.
Massaro spends some of his autumn time still involved in football -- but just watching the games.
"I am a spectator now. I go to all of the YSU games and to some of W & amp;J games and some of the VMI games," he said.
But Massaro and his wife now spend much of their time with their grandchildren.
"We spend a lot of time visiting our grandkids. We have nine grandkids. We have been richly blessed," he said.