O'Hara football coach recalled fondly after his death

Posted: July 06, 2014

DURING the 2012 football season, Joe McCourt's phone rang, not long after the Roman Catholic coach led his squad to a rousing, come-from-behind victory against Cardinal O'Hara.

"The first person to call me was Danny Algeo," McCourt said after learning Algeo, the longtime O'Hara football coach died early Thursday morning.

"He just came from maybe one of the toughest losses of his career, and he still called me," McCourt continued. "That's a guy who just got it. He got coaching. Whether it was wins or losses, he just understood everything that surrounded the game. He was just a class act."

Algeo, 49, died after suffering a heart attack on Monday, according to multiple reports and former players. McCourt, a 2000 Roman graduate who later played running back at Lafayette, starred for Algeo as a Cahillite.

"He was just a guy that if you played for him, you were like his kid for life," said McCourt, soon to enter his seventh season at Roman. "And no matter what happened, he was going to be there for you. And, that's what I always respected about Danny Algeo."

A 1983 graduate of Lansdale Catholic, Algeo started his coaching career as an assistant with the Crusaders under his father, Jim, who was the head coach for 44 seasons (293 wins).

After 13 seasons under his dad, Algeo coached Roman from 1996 to 1999, capturing the Catholic League Red Division title, 21-7, against La Salle in his final season. He went on to coach at Phoenixville in 2000 and was an assistant at Widener University in 2002. Algeo became O'Hara's offensive coordinator in 2003 and replaced head coach George Stratts in 2004, earning another Red Division championship, 14-13, against St. Joseph's Prep that same year.

Algeo's overall coaching record was 98-69 (including Phoenixville) and he remains one of three football coaches to win a CL title with two schools (Stratts at O'Hara and Cardinal Dougherty; Jack Shields at St. Joseph's Prep and West Catholic).

"It's sad that he's gone," said McCourt, who won Daily News Player of the Year as a junior at Roman. "He left a legacy. He touched a lot of lives."

Among those was Gabe Cordes, a 2014 O'Hara grad who played nose guard for the Lions last season. When Cordes' father, Mark, recently fell ill with cancer, Algeo lent support.

"He was a very religious man," said Cordes, who will attempt to walk on at Kutztown next season. "So, when my dad was sick, he was always there for us. Always went to the hospital. He spent a lot of time calling, checking in and saying he was praying for us."

"He was a man that asked for so little, but gave so much for us," Cordes said.

McCourt echoed the sentiment.

"The thing about Danny was that he was in it for the right reasons - and that was for the kids," McCourt said.

"Everything he did was to benefit young men, better their lives on and off the field and help them achieve their dreams of playing college football."

Among others who played collegiately, former O'Hara standout quarterback Tom Savage (Pittsburgh) was chosen by the Houston Texans in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL draft. Corey Brown, a wide receiver who went to Ohio State, signed with the Carolina Panthers as an undrafted free agent. Anthony Walters (Delaware) signed with the Chicago Bears as an undrafted free agent in 2011.

"Danny Algeo is a guy in the Catholic League that you're not going to replace," McCourt said. "Danny was just a great guy and a great ambassador for the league, and he's just going to be missed by everybody."

Viewings will be at St. Stanislaus Catholic Church in Lansdale 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesday and 9 to 11 a.m. Wednesday, the latter followed by a funeral Mass.

Algeo, the fourth of Jim and Mickey Algeo's nine children, is survived by his daughter Becca.

On Twitter: @AceCarterDN

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