Forgive Willie Dodaro if he misses Mass on Saturday afternoon.
After all, Joe Trebitz is starting for Pitt against Notre Dame, and Dodaro believes it would be sinful to miss the game.
“I usually go to church on Saturday afternoon because my only day to sleep in is Sunday morning,” said Dodaro, the football coach at West Boca Raton (Fla.) High School where Trebitz was a four-year starter. “I usually go to 4 o’clock Mass. I told my wife, `We’re not going to church this week.’ ”
Trebitz, a fifth-year senior, is scheduled to make the first start of his career for Pitt at middle linebacker when the Panthers play Notre Dame on national televison at 3:30 Saturday. Unless something unforeseen happens the rest of the week — such as regular starter Shane Gordon suddenly recovering from his high ankle sprain — Trebitz will replace Dan Mason, who was lost for the season with a lacerated liver.
“Thank you for sharing the good news with me,” said Dodaro, who added the entire West Boca student body will hear it Wednesday on the morning announcements. “For him to get a start against Notre Dame, it’s gotta be unbelievable.”
Dodaro, a graduate of Elizabeth Forward High School who played football with former Steeler Tunch Ilkin at Indiana State, said Trebitz “brings a lot of leadership to the table.”
“He never wanted to come off the field. He was always humble and wanted to know more because he was so smart.”
I asked Dodaro for his best Joe Trebitz story.
“We knew we were going to win when Joe threw up before the game,” Dodaro said. “He threw up before every game. If the kids didn’t see him throwing up in pre-practice, we knew it was going to be a rough night.”
Former Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt and assistants Charlie Partridge and Paul Rhoads recruited Trebitz in 2008, and all three were gone by the end of 2010. As a result, Trebitz has been forced to prove himself to three different coaching staffs while playing mainly special teams.
“He met every coach and was loyal to every coach he met,” Dodaro said. “I know Dave liked him a lot. I’m proud of him. He’s in a great institution, getting a great education and getting it paid for and you never can complain about that.”
Before I said goodbye to Dodaro, I asked how his team is doing this season.
He laughed. “I need more Joe Trebitzes,” he said.