The News Herald (Willoughby, OH)
Coaching will always be in Larry Pinto’s DNA
Retired head coach will remain on Mayfield staff an assistant
In baseball terms, Larry Pinto is rounding third and heading for home.
For anyone who knows Pinto, baseball isn’t his speciality. It’s football, especially the point of attack at the line of scrimmage.
It’s no surprise Pinto was in his element coaching up the big guys up front for the White team June 12 at Mayfield’s Wildcat Stadium in preparation for the June 17 News-Herald Senior Bowl. “He’s always fired up,” said White team defensive lineman Zach Rodman of Mayfield. “There’s no plays off with him. He’s always fired up, going 100 percent.”
Pinto will be an assistant for the White team that’s headed by Chagrin Falls coach Mark Iammarino.
Pinto used to call himself a head coach for 18 seasons at Mayfield.
That was before he stepped down in January, ending an era as the Wildcats’ main football man that was mighty impressive.
As Mayfield head coach, Pinto was 138-64 with seven 10-win seasons, nine playoff appearances, four conference championships and three state final four appearances.
Even though 18 years as a head coach was enough, coaching will never leave Pinto. That’s why he can’t walk away completely. Pinto will remain on the Wildcats’ staff under new head coach Ross Bandiera as line coach. He will also return as Mayfield High School physical education teacher. He retired from that post in 2015, but the district rehired him, at a lesser salary.
“I can’t see myself anywhere
else,” said Pinto after practice at Wildcat Stadium June 12. “I love this place, I love the kids. The administration is great. The parents are wonderful. Ross is going to do a great job. I want to work as hard for him as he did for me.”
While he’s Mayfield through and through, the demands of being a head coach were something Pinto said was enough. He loves football as much as anyone — Pinto has either played or coached football the last 46 seasons — but needed a break from one aspect.
“When you’re the head coach, football’s on your mind 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Now, it’s a little less time,” said Pinto with a smile.
The transition from head coach to assistant won’t be an issue for the laid-back Pinto, either.
“I can stand back in the shadows, absolutely,” said Pinto. “Some guys can’t do that. I can do that.”
He coaches his linemen without much fanfare or attention, and that‘s something he really can’t wait for next fall.
Pinto has always been an offensive lineman or coached them. When he graduated from Mayfield in the 1980s, he attended Mount Union because he wanted to continue playing, and eventually became the first in his family to earn a degree.
He didn’t know what to do with it. His position coach at Mount, North graduate Don Montgomery, and his parents recommended teaching and coaching. More than 30 years later, it’s proved to be great advice, and it’s not over yet.
Pinto’s good buddy, Madison coach Tim Willis, isn’t surprised he’s still in the coaching game. The two seem cut from the same cloth. Both spent time as longtime assistants before getting head coaching jobs. Pinto coached under the likes of Byron Morgan and Paglio at Mayfield; Willis under Art Bortnik at Madison.
“No. 1, it’s his work ethic,” said Willis of Pinto’s success. “He put a lot of time in as assistant like me before and I think that’s paid off for both of us.”
Pinto turns 54 on June 18, a day after the Senior Bowl. He’s celebrating that day by working a Mayfield alumni golf outing in the morning. Then he will attend a wedding in the evening. It’s only fitting the person getting married is a former Wildcats player under Pinto.
He makes no bones about it. Mayfield High School will forever pull him in, and football is the No. 1 reason.
“I don’t know what I’d do,” he said when asked if he went through with a full-blown retirement.” I love football.”